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.
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
The NSW Law Reform Commission (LRC) recently tabled in the NSW Parliament Report 149 - Open Justice: Court and tribunal information: access, disclosure and publication.
The report makes 156 recommendations dealing with the operation of NSW court suppression and non-publication orders and access to information in NSW courts and tribunals. It is informed by the principles that, open justice is fundamental to the integrity of the administration; exceptions to access should be minimal and necessary to protect certain sensitive information, vulnerable people and the administration of justice; and the power and discretion of the judiciary, to control court proceedings and to determine open justice issues, should be preserved to the maximum extent possible.Read more
NSWCCL made a submission to the NSW's Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption regarding the Review of aspects of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988.
The risk of corruption is deeply concerning because, if not effectively checked, it threatens our democratic values and processes – including the rights and liberties of free and equal persons. This is why we support a strong and effective ICAC, appropriately constrained by safeguards for individual liberties and rights that are compatible with operational effectiveness.Read more
The TDI Bill was tipped to be tabled earlier this year, having largely slipped under the radar. NSWCCL has concerns that this Bill lacks some important privacy safeguards.
The Australian government recently consulted the community on the draft Trusted Digital Identity Bill 2021 (Bill), a package consisting of a Trusted Digital Identity System (TDIS) and the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF). The draft Bill encompasses a federal accreditation framework for Digital Identity services which will enable the States and Territories and the public and private sector to use the TDIF and TDIS to verify the identities of people and businesses they deal with online. It also sets out the requirements that applicants need to meet to achieve accreditation.
Currently, Australia Post, the ATO and OCR labs have been granted accreditation. The Australian Government is accrediting a number of other businesses under the TDIF as a part of testing the readiness of the Australian Government Digital Identity System to expand beyond the Australian Government. As of this post, the Bill is yet to be introduced into parliament.Read more
NSWCCL made a joint submission with the Australian Information Industry Association to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America on Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime under the CLOUD act.Read more
The Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2022 is a deeply concerning development because it is really about making reforms to defamation laws in ways that could particularly favour politicians and others with sufficient resources to pursue defamation remedies, and not about reducing trolling or the damage caused by trolling.Read more
Update: The Privacy Act Review Report was released on 16 February 2023. NSWCCL was pleased to see that many of the recommendations the Council made in our submission were supported in the review.
A key recommendation in the review is ensuring the collection of, use and disclosure of personal information is fair and reasonable, including whether the “impact on privacy is proportionate to the benefit”. The Council supports the inclusion of non-exhaustive legislated factors that are relevant to determining whether the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. However, it considers that clear guidance and examples of how these factors may apply in practice must be provided.
The standard of ‘fair and reasonable’ must be assessed by reference to the perspective of the individual, rather than being assessed from an APP entity’s perspective. We consider that having clear guidance from the outset, rather than waiting to see how the courts interpret such new provisions, will empower APP entities to appropriately assess whether any proposed data collection, use or disclosure would be unfairly prejudicial to, or unreasonable having consideration to the expectations of, the individual. In particular, to the extent that these factors do require consideration of what is ‘fair and reasonable’ from the perspective of the individual, the APP entity should be required to consider and satisfy each factor. This is because the protection of personal information and right to privacy should be fundamental to the Act, and should not be readily outweighed by business considerations.
The review has also proposed “direct right of action” that allows individuals to seek compensation in the Federal Court for a breach of privacy, which privacy advocates have long called for. To access the action, a claimant would first need to make a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
The Council supports the creation of a direct right of action. The NSWCCL considers it important that individuals can personally litigate a claim for breach of their privacy under the Privacy Act. However, the ability of individuals to do so is currently limited. The creation of a direct right of action would therefore give individuals greater control over their personal information by providing an additional avenue of redress under the Privacy Act. This, in turn, would encourage better compliance by APP entities of their privacy obligations under the Act.
However, the expansion of the OAIC’s funding is critical given that several proposals contained within the Discussion Paper involve the broadening of the OAIC’s current remit. Chronic underfunding will erode the effectiveness of any privacy protections the OAIC seeks to implement and support. To properly conduct both its existing and proposed activities, the OAIC must be adequately funded and consulted in respect of the resources it requires. The OAIC received limited funding to support its privacy initiatives in the 2021-2022 Federal Budget, despite a significant expansion in its activities with the onset of its Digital Economy Strategy.
NSWCCL made a submission to the Review of the Privacy Act 1988 advocating for urgent reform to modernise the Act and ensure it is fit for purpose in the digital economy. Privacy is a fundamental human right that is central to the maintenance of democratic societies and achieving respect for human dignity. In this regard, the NSWCCL submits that the right to privacy should be the paramount object of the Act and considers the two primary areas of concern in debates relating to privacy are:
- (a) the intrusive observation of one’s actions (whether by surveillance, listening, data analysis or other mode); and
- (b) the discussion and the misuse of personal information.
NSWCCL supports in-principle many of the proposals outlined in the Discussion Paper and commends the Attorney General’s Department for reflecting the legitimate privacy concerns of a broad spectrum of society. Many Australians are concerned about gaps and ambiguities in the existing privacy regime that undermine the right to privacy. This is especially important in the context of unprecedented integration of digital technology in our everyday lives.
NSWCCL recently wrote to the Attorney General to comment on the exposure draft of the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (Online Privacy Bill).Read more