Core concerns for this group are protecting free speech and free media from unwarranted censorship and constraint and promoting open government and whistle-blower protection.
Yesterday the Council wrote to Hon Paul Scully MP, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, to stand up for Yes23 campaigners who have been moved along by Council Rangers while handing out information relating to the referendum to change the Australian Constitution.
It is a fundamental part of our democratic system of government that people can freely associate, distribute material, and communicate with others about changes to the Australian Constitution. We were alarmed by these actions on behalf of the State which are fundamentally undemocratic and a draconian breach of civil liberties.Read more
Submission: Consultation regarding the exposure draft of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts (the Department) in regard to the exposure draft of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 (the Draft Bill).
The NSWCCL acknowledges the harms caused by misinformation and disinformation, particularly as they relate to: the erosion of trust in democratic processes; the weakening of trust generally between and among public and private entities; and, the undermining of an informed populace.
However, the NSWCCL is concerned that the Draft Bill does not sufficiently consider freedoms of expression and assembly, nor take into account the potential for misinformation to be spread by means and entities that are outside the Draft Bill's scope.Read more
We think that the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence, AI, poses significant risks to the civil rights of the Australian public. As it stands, Australia’s regulatory system fails to fully address these risks – an issue that will grow with increased use of these technologies.Read more
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in regard to its inquiry into the operation of Commonwealth Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.
This inquiry came about after the Greens, Coalition and crossbench teamed up to force the issue. The FOI commissioner, Leo Hardiman, announced his resignation earlier in March citing his lack of powers to make changes necessary to improve the timeliness of reviews of FOI decisions.
The former senator Rex Patrick has brought a federal court case challenging lengthy delays in the FOI review process. He has warned that vast delays plague Australia’s “broken” freedom of information system and are shielding the activities of government from scrutiny.Read more
As previously submitted, privacy is a fundamental human right that is central to the maintenance of democratic societies and achieving respect for human dignity. To this end, urgent reform is required to modernise the Act and ensure it is fit for purpose in the digital age, and the NSWCCL reiterates its previous submissions outlined in its response dated 9 January 2022 to the Attorney General’s Privacy Act Review Discussion Paper.Read more
Submission: Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) informing the sharing of General Practice Data and use of Electronic Clinical Decision Support (eCDS).
The CRIS poses a series of questions to further identify the challenges of and options for the sharing of general practice data and the use of eCDS. The objective is to use general practice data to inform government health policy and for public health research. Rather than answering each specific question posed, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties submission focuses on the privacy implications for patient consumers of general practice services and use of eCDS. The submission covers the four identified problem areas of data sharing and consent; data quality, comparability and linkage; data governance, oversight and coordination; and the increased use of eCDS by GPs.Read more
Submission: Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Information Disclosure, National Interest and Other Measures) Bill 2022
NSWCCL has consistently voiced concerns about the potential for misuse of location data, collected by everyone from telecommunications companies to Google. In our recent submission to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee we note that due care should be taken in widening law enforcement's access to personal data.
The stated aim of the proposed ammendments to the Bill are to provide police with greater access to location data from phone companies to find missing people at risk of harm. NSWCCL agrees that the timely provision of information to law enforcement is critical to ensuring the safety of vulnerable and at-risk individuals. However, we argue that the current legislation allows disclosure of such information, under section 287 of the act, if emergency services believe “on reasonable grounds that the disclosure or use is reasonably necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of a person”. We do not agree that the appropriate balance between information privacy and the free flow of information has been achieved in the Bill.Read more
NSWCCL believes facial recognition technology presents a unique and wide-ranging threat to cherished values of privacy and autonomy. The possibility of ubiquitous intrusive surveillance is fast becoming a reality without necessary public discussion and legal guardrails.
NSWCCL therefore welcomes the Facial Recognition Model Law Report produced by the Human Technology Institute at University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and joins the Report’s call for:
- the Attorney-General to introduce a bill into the Australian Parliament, based on the FRT Model Law;
- the Attorney-General to assign regulatory responsibility to a suitable regulator and empower that body to create facial recognition standards
- the Attorney-General to initiate a process with his state and territory counterparts to ensure that the law on FRT is harmonised across all Australian jurisdictions
- the Attorney-General to establish an Australian Government taskforce on facial recognition to ensure development and use of the technology accords with ethical and legal standards
Media Statement: NSW Council for Civil Liberties supports the crossbench push for public hearings for the National Anti-Corruption Commission
The national anti-corruption commission inquiry handed down its findings this week. While supporting all of the report’s recommendations the NSW Council for Civil Liberties is deeply concerned that the proposed model will greatly constrain the Commissioner’s power to hold public hearings even when the commissioner is satisfied that a public hearing would be in the public interest.Read more
Update: The advisory report on the provisions of the National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022 and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022 was published on Thursday of last week. Read our statement here.
Read our submission to the inquiry here.
Read the final report from the inquiry here. (Link no longer available.)
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the National Anti-Corruption Commission Legislation Committee's inquiry into the provisions of the National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022 and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022, which seek to establish the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
NSWCCL has long advocated for the urgent need for a strong national anti-corruption body and has engaged with the various proposals for such a body over the last decade. In doing so we have built on our close observation of the NSW ICAC and engagement with numbers of reviews of that body; as well as various proposals for a national-anti-corruption body over the last decade.Read more