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.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) welcomes the dismissal of anti-protesting law
charges against Bev Smiles, Bruce Hughes and Stephanie Luce in Mudgee Local Court on
The trio, known as the “Wollar Three”, attended a protest against the expansion of the
Wilpinjong mine in 2017. They blocked a road, and held up a banner. They faced two charges
under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 2016, of which they were acquitted. They were also
charged with obstructing pedestrians and drivers. Magistrate David Day found them guilty of
obstructing the road, but did not record any convictions against them.
NSWCCL recently joined with other CCLs to oppose the deeply disturbing Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017.
This Bill will not deliver the reform to electoral funding that is urgently needed in Australia. It will however, deliver a devastating blow to civil society’s capacity to participate in political advocacy and to the broad freedom of political communication.
In addition, it proposes a clumsy, heavy handed, costly and overly burdensome approach to regulation of the charity and political advocacy sectors.Read more
COAG has agreed to the establishment of a National Facial Biometric Matching Capability which will have access to all drivers licences in Australia - as well as visa, passport and citizenship photos. This massive biometric database will be available to state and federal security and law enforcement agencies. The rationale for this very significant increase in the capacity for real-time government surveillance of most Australian residents is, of course, to better protect us.
We want governments to do all that is possible and proportionate to protect us and, as part of that, we support effective coordination between states and federal agencies. However, NSWCCL fears that this development in mass surveillance capacity will have- over time - significant implications that are not currently appreciated for the nature of our society and the robustness of our democracy.Read more
NSW Council for Civil Liberties calls for stronger protection of the right to political protest. The recent media statements by the Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Pru Goward and Tony Abbott concerning the homeless people camping in Martin Place highlight the need to protect our right to political protest.
Protection of civil liberties is weak in Australia. The Constitution contains a weak protection of the right to political protest. In NSW we do not have the protection of a bill of rights.
Peaceful political protest often involves disruption of public spaces. If we view the right to peaceful political protest as worth upholding, the community may need to tolerate some inconvenience.
Public statements by politicians to the effect that the police should be required to dismantle peaceful political protests occurring in public spaces ignore the fact that the right to political protest is a fundamental right in a mature democracy.
Now is the time to revisit the need for a bill of rights – visit Human Rights for NSW
Civil penalties for non-consensual sharing of intimate images -“revenge porn”
In a recent submission to the Department of Communication & the Arts, NSWCCL made specific recommendations to a proposed Commonwealth government prohibition on non-consensual sharing of intimate images, colloquially referred to as “revenge porn”. We also addressed the question of appropriate civil penalties to deter, prevent and mitigate harm to victims, by individuals and content hosts, who breach the prohibition.
NSWCCL considers the non-consensual sharing of intimate images to be a privacy issue. It occurs when experiences, deemed private, are distributed without consent to the public, the victim’s family, work mates, employer or friends. Nonetheless, privacy requires a balance of interests, therefore defences of public interest and consent should be available to the perpetrator.Read more
NSWCCL recently lodged a submission with the Attorney General’s Department and the Department of Communications and Arts in January 2017. We reiterated our view that the current metadata scheme is an affront to civil liberties and oppose its extension into civil proceedings. Extension of the uses to which metadata may be put is one of the reasons that we opposed the introduction of laws requiring collection and retention of metadata in the first place.
In our submission we noted the international experience, which suggests that metadata rarely makes a difference in criminal investigations.Read more
We are looking forward to attending an Evening with Edward Snowden in Sydney, which is being staged by ThinkInc. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will be appearing via video link. We are running a competition for supporters who are yet to join CCL. The first 2 supporters to join CCL as members will receive a complimentary ticket to the event. Please email us at [email protected] when you sign up as a member to enter the competition. Supporters and members may also obtain a discount on the ticket price by entering the code NSWCCL when booking. See you on the 28th!Read more
In early 2016, a group of organisations and individuals formed and launched the Digital Rights Watch, an advocacy group whose mission is to ensure that Australian citizens are equipped, empowered and enabled to uphold their digital rights.
The coalition, which included representatives from NSWCCL, saw the need to form DRW in response to increasingly oppressive policy by the government in eroding the rights of its citizens online, such as mandatory data retention, website blocking legislation, industry code for online copyright infringement, and the constricting effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the digital rights of Australians.
The DRW is mobilising for various upcoming campaigns, and we are looking for any volunteers and supporters who are interested in joining with us to deliver a fairer, freer, internet for all Australians!
Got questions/comments on this exciting new campaign? Email us at [email protected]
Tuesday (13 October) is the key date in data retention. From this day, most internet companies and telcos must start storing their customer's metadata and making it accessible to government agencies without a warrant.
The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 requires telecommunications service providers to retain their customers' metadata for 2 years. Retained data will include the customer’s identity, and the date, time and form of communications. There is an exception if the Commonwealth decides that a service provider is allowed to delay implementation. The exception lasts for up to 18 months.
Government agencies tasked with enforcing criminal law such as the state and federal police will be able to access the retained data, if they consider it reasonably necessary for enforcing the criminal law. Other agencies tasked with imposing civil fines (such as the Australian Tax Office, Local Governments or the RSPCA) may also be given access to the data.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties considers mandatory data retention a core civil liberties issue. NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks said "the regime is indiscriminate and poorly regulated. There is a real risk the stored information might be misused by government agencies. It’s akin to banning everyone in the country from having blinds on their windows because a handful among us might be engaged in crime."
A Right to Know? NSW Council for Civil Liberties Calls out for Freedom of Information Requests
New South Wales is celebrating ‘Right to Know Week’ soon, and to celebrate, we’re helping you get access to information that you have the right to know.
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 gives you the right to access most information held by NSW government and public bodies.
The idea is that our democracy depends on a representative government that is transparent and accessible to its citizens.
However, some people have expressed concern that the system doesn’t work: that agencies over-charge, or don’t comply with the law. That means that the right to know isn’t as powerful in practice as it should be.
Our plan is to help you get access to information that you are legally entitled to access, and see how well the system works in the process.
So: what are you curious about? Tell us what information you’d like to know, and we’ll try to get it for you.
FYI, the Act applies to:
- All governments agencies
- Ministers and staff
- Local council
- State-owned corporations
- Public authorities, like universities
So get thinking!
We’ll track our progress on getting the information for you – from the application process to the outcome and whatever happens in between.
Send in your requests to [email protected] by 4 October 2015 and we’ll choose the five most interesting.