Yesterday opponents of Australia’s mooted data retention laws held a protest meeting in Parliament House.
It was led by three cross-bench senators who oppose the legislation – The Greens’ Scott Ludlam, independent Nick Xenophon, and libertarian David Leyonhjelm. They were joined by a large cross section of communications industry and privacy advocates, including Communications Alliance and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.
Others opposing the legislation include Electronic Frontiers Australia, Pirate Party Australia, Blueprint for Free Speech, Civil Liberties Australia, Internet Society of Australia, Institute of Public Affairs, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, the Law Council of Australia, Liberty Victoria, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Australian Privacy Foundation, iiNet, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, and ThoughtWorks.
The state government has thrown its support behind a push by police to be equipped with body-mounted cameras capturing every move of the NSW public. Police Association president Scott Weber said the roll out of the cameras to every front-line officer was a "natural progression" following a successful trial of the technology in some police commands and moves by the state government to allow video evidence to be used in domestic violence court cases.
Stephen Blanks, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, supported the roll-out of cameras, saying it will keep police accountable too.
"These cameras are fine so long as police can't turn them off," he said. "If they are going to have them, it's important they capture everything that occurs, not just material selected by police."
Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 21/10/14
In an atmosphere of manufactured hysteria about “Muslim terrorists” in our midst, the Coalition government has introduced sweeping attacks on civil liberties in Australia.
ASIO was also given expanded powers to break into more actual houses with force and without being accompanied by the state or federal police. They have the power to break into neighbouring houses to those targeted and to use “reasonable” force not only at the point of breaking in but right through the operation.
The new laws also give ASIO legal immunity for breaking the law in any “special intelligence operation” designated by the attorney-general as long as such lawbreaking does not cause death, serious injury, torture, sexual offences or significant damage to property.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has warned that this expanded power to conduct searches and use force, without the presence of the police, formally turns ASIO into a “secret police” and is a “significant danger to Australian democracy”.
Source: Green Left Weekly, 11/10/14
The next tranche of the Australian government’s national security legislation could allow biometric information to be shared with domestic and foreign agencies
Stephen Blanks, the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said the ability to share with other agencies without a warrant was concerning.
“Sharing of data collected for immigration control with other agencies ought to be subject to independent oversight and should only be done in circumstances which would justify the issue of a warrant,” he said.
Source: The Guardian, 7/10/14
Under the proposed laws, people travelling to terrorism hotspots could be jailed for five years; their passports could be seized for two week periods; while welfare, family payments and paid parental leave could be cancelled on security grounds.
Stephen Blanks, from the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, says children could be the real victims.
"We have concerns about the provisions for secret cancellation of passports, or cancellation of passports without notice. There are some consequences of those provisions are likely to result in children being put into detention. Now that's a hot-button issue at the moment. One can expect that the way in which cancellation of passports and visas impacts on dependents will result in detention of children.
Mr Blanks is calling for a public interest monitor to oversee the proposed laws.
Listen now: Concerns raised over 'foreign fighter' laws
Source: SBS World News Radio, 6/10/2014
This week saw the passage of legislation that will give the Australian Security intelligence Organisation new powers to conduct "special intelligence operations", where agents will be permitted to break the law and journalists, whistleblowers and others will be penalised with up to 10 years in prison if they reveal any aspect of them.
Meanwhlie, ASIO will only need one warrant to spy on networks of computers, which some intepret to mean the entire internet.
"That could be to really any device that's connected to the internet," says Stephen Blanks of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. "[Intelligence agencies] will access information concerning people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing."
Australia’s domestic intelligence agency would have almost “total control” over the cancellation of passports for people who are considered a security risk under proposed laws which the Australian Human Rights Commission has warned may have severe consequences.
Stephen Blanks, the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, also expressed concerns about the passport changes, and said it could see more people being held in detention.
“One can expect that the way that that impacts the cancellation of dependants passports will result in detention of children,” he said.
Source: The Guardian, 3/10/2014
As part of changes to guidelines, officers have been told offenders do not have to be armed before an electronic control device (ECD) can be used, but a situation must be considered high risk.
Source: Yahoo!7 News, 1/10/2014
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has called for a one-line amendment to ensure the government’s proposed changes to counter-terrorism laws do not leave the way open for ASIO officers to argue they have legal immunity for torture.
The call has been triggered by concern that planned changes aimed at protecting undercover ASIO officers might have the unintended consequence of encouraging them to believe they have legal immunity to engage in torture.
Source: The Australian, 19/9/14
NSWCCL says it would be an extraordinary manifestation of hypocrisy for Labor to 'not oppose' the legislation, as it has suggested it will do. CCL Secretary Lesley Lynch says CCL greatly disappointment with the Government putting forward this bill and argues that if it is bad process and bad law, Labor should oppose the bill.