Latest news

Submission to the inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Biometrics Integrity) Bill

NSWCCL recently made a submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee's inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Biometrics Integrity) Bill 2015. The submission condemns the Bill in its current form since the collection and retention of biometric data poses an unnecessary and disproportionate threat to the privacy of all non-citizens and Australian citizens.

While understanding the justification for the collection and use of biometric data, NSWCCL is concerned that the Bill does not contain essential safeguards to limit the collection and retention of additional biometric data such as fingerprints, handprints, measurement of height and weight, an audio or video recording and an iris scan.

Furthermore NSWCCL is concerned that the Bill in its current form may disproportionately affect minors, incapable persons and asylum seekers because it removes the requirement for consent and presence of a parent, guardian or independent person for and during the collection of such biometric data. 

Thus, NSWCCL urges Parliament to conduct a privacy impact assessment and relevant safeguards be implemented to ensure that the amendment does not allow for the mass collection and retention of biometric data.

Read the full submission here. 


Letter to ALP members and senators on the Data Retention Bill

NSW Council for Civil Liberties recently wrote to all ALP members and all senators urging that the Data Retention Bill be delayed until key issues in the bill are resolved. 

Click here to read the full letter sent to all ALP members and Senators on 15 March.

Click here to read the full letter sent to all Senators on 24 March


NSWCCL endorses UPR shadow reports together with joint NGOs and international surveillance groups

NSW Council for Civil Liberties has formally endorsed two separate Shadow Reports for the United Nations' 2015 Universal Periodic Review of Australia: firstly, a Joint NGO Submission together with a wide range of NGOs across Australia; and secondly, a submission specifically relating to Surveillance in Australia together with international and national surveillance groups. 

 

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TAKE ACTION: Imminent passage of mass data retention and surveillance in Australia

Next week the Parliament of Australia will debate the highly contentious and dangerous data retention bill (Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014).  This bill, if passed, will mandate the collection and retention for two years of telecommunications data on all citizens – suspect and non-suspect alike –  for subsequent access and analysis by intelligence and security agencies, police and other agencies.

No warrant will be necessary to access this data.  

If this bill becomes law, Australia will have one of the most extensive and intrusive data collection and surveillance regimes in the democratic world. 

NSW Council for Civil Liberties has written to all Labor MPs and Senators. We need you to do this too

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NSWCCL President warns against 'not guilty' pleas and privacy issues concerning domestic violence register

NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks has warned against the automatic placement of offenders on a proposed domestic violence register, strongly urging that a court should decide whether to place somebody on the register based on an assessment of their risk to the community.

"If it's automatic, we will see an enormous change in the way people treat their defence," he said. "It will be a huge incentive on everyone charged with domestic violence offences to plead not guilty, which is quite counter-productive. We want a system where people are encouraged to recognise their guilt."

There are also potential privacy issues associated with the proposed register: "You don't want people getting information off the register and putting it on Facebook". Mr Blanks argues that access to the register should be strictly regulated.

Persons on the register should also be notified if their information has been accessed. While it has been argued that this could deter persons from checking the register, Mr Blanks affirms that it is a "fundamental privacy principle...People are entitled to know when information about them is being disclosed."

 

Article: Domestic violence register could lead to increased not guilty pleas, privacy experts warn

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 6/3/2015

Article: NSW commits to domestic violence register

Source: SBS News, 6/3/2015

 

See also: Do we need a Domestic Violence Registry in NSW?

Source: 2SER 107.3, 9/3/2015


NSWCCL condemns PM's attacks on Human Rights Commission

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties condemns the Prime Minister’s attack on the credibility of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), and Commissioner Gillian Triggs following the release of the Commission’s damning report into the detention of asylum seeker children.

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NSWCCL calls for mercy for two Australian citizens on death row in Indonesia

NSWCCL calls on the Australian government to make all diplomatic efforts to stop the executions of the two Australian citizens on death row in Indonesia facing imminent execution.  The NSWCCL has signed a joint letter with a range of other organisations to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, urging such efforts be made, and to the Indonesian Ambassador in Australia seeking mercy for the two Australian citizens facing imminent execution.

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Australia marked down on human rights by Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch, in its World Report 2015, comments on the Australian government’s human rights record in 2014, stating that the government's failure to respect international standards protecting asylum seekers and refugees continues to take a heavy human toll and undermines Australia’s ability to call for stronger human rights protections abroad. HRW reports on the introduction of new counterterrorism measures, describing them as 'overboard,' stating that the measures would infringe on freedoms of expression and movement. The report also highlights the government's failure to take action to address indigenous rights and disability rights.

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Mass data retention - the fight is on

Last year civil liberties and human rights groups resisted, with limited success, the worst elements of the veritable tsunami of new counter-terrorism laws the Abbot Government brought in swift succession to the Parliament.  Now we are fast approaching a decision point in the highly significant and contentious debate as to whether the Australian Parliament will legislate the mandatory collection and retention of mass telecommunications data for the bulk of the population to enable retrospective access by authorities.

Help us fight mass data retention - donate to the CITIZENFOUR screening and send a message to our politicians

It would be a major negative step for a democracy. It will be a major intrusion every citizen’s right to privacy - including those not suspected of any unlawful activity. This will have major flow-on implications for other freedoms and democratic values. In particular, it will undermine a robust and free press and constrain legitimate whistle-blowers by removing any confidentiality from all phone and internet communications.  

The combined CCLS consider it to be a step too far. We strongly oppose the policy concept and urge the Parliament to reject it. 

 

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Vale Kep Enderby

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of one of NSWCCL’s founding members, Kep Enderby QC, on 8 January 2015. Kep was lifelong advocate for civil liberties and an active progressive force in Australian politics for decades. 

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