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.
It is disappointing to see the Commissioner of Police's comments in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning defending warrantless access to databases containing personal information. The police are opportunistically taking advantage of the proliferation of electronic databases which do not have strong privacy policies to protect members of the community against inappropriate release of their personal information. In the absence of strong data protection laws and personal privacy protection, the only protection the public can get is through privacy policies which require law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants from an independent judge or magistrate before personal information is released.
Public statement from The NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Liberty Victoria, The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, The SA Council for Civil Liberties, Civil Liberties Australia
The operation of ID scanners to collect and store the personal information of all patron's will begin this week at a number of 'high-risk' venues in Kings Cross. This data collection scheme raises concerns over privacy and security, such as the possibility for unauthorised access or the inappropriate usage of individuals' personal data. NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks has commented recently in the media on this issue, visit the links below for coverage.
Article - Privacy concerns over Kings Cross ID scanners The content we linked to is no longer available
The new Attorney General Brad Hazzard has disappointed many with his unexplained deferral of the NSW Government’s response to the important and –in the current context- highly significant report of the standing committee on law and justice into NSW racial vilification laws. This was given to the Government in December 2013 and its response has been awaited for some time.
The committee had been asked by the Government to inquire into whether Section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act which created the offence of serious racial vilification was effective and if it established a realistic test, in line with community expectations, for the offence of racial vilification. It was also asked to advise on any improvements to Section 20D ‘having regard to the continued importance of freedom of speech”.
There was no radical shift proposed by the report. The committee unanimously made a number of modest recommendations for improvements mainly focussed on removing ‘procedural impediments’ to successful criminal prosecution for serious racial vilification. The absence of any successful criminal prosecutions under the Act had been cited by the then Premier Barrie O’Farrell as the main driver for the inquiry.Read more
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties, represented by the President, Stephen Blanks, executive committee member Dr Martin Bibby and assistant secretary Jackson Rogers, gave evidence to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in its review of the Telecommunications Interception Act on 23 April 2014. Transcript of CCL’s evidence will be available shortly.
CCL made an extended submission to the Senate’s review of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act (the TIA Act). We emphasized the importance of privacy as a fundamental right, central to the maintenance of democratic societies and essential for the formation of dissent and the exercise of freedom. Surveillance is a tool of tyranny.
The Attorney General George Brandis has flagged his intention of repealing/amending s18c of the Racial Discrimination Act to better protect free speech.Read more
NSWCCL has made a submission to the NSW Department of Attorney-General and Justice on the Statutory Review of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007.
"Given the high incidence of surveillance resulting in no ‘relevant information,’ the Council for Civil Liberties is of the view that the Attorney-General should recommend to Parliament that s.52 be amended. The Council recommends that the Act be amended so that issuing authorities can prospectively require a law enforcement agency to report to targets about the use of past surveillance where: (a) no information relevant to a prosecution is found; and (b) it is the second attempt against the same target that has resulted in no information useful to a prosecution being gathered (whether the warrant was issued in respect of the same or a different offence)."
NSWCCL has made a submission to Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the inquiry into the Telecommunications Amendment (Get a Warrant) Bill 2013.
"It has never been more important that lawful surveillance and intrusions upon privacy, which a democratic nation determines to be necessary and proportionate for its security, are subject to strong independent oversight, accountability and maximum transparency.
The amendments proposed in this Bill, if enacted, will provide a significant strengthening of these protections."
- The NSWCCL strongly supports the purpose of the Bill as set out in the explanatory memorandum
- NSWCCL supports the proposed amendments to the TIA Act in the Bill
- NSWCCL supports a more comprehensive review and amendment of the TIA Act
A number of reports have been released recently that are key for the ongoing activities of the National ASIO Campaign.Read more