NSW Council for Civil Liberties says force has not released statistics about stun gun use for six years
Civil liberties groups have demanded more transparency around the police use of Tasers after a mentally ill man died during a police arrest in Sydney on Sunday.
Read complete article: Call to lift secrecy around police Taser use after mentally ill man's death
Source: The Guardian
Police “monitored the behaviour” of people on a Lock the Gate bus tour for hours on February 3 and 4 after deciding it was a “protest group”, and despite Lock the Gate publicising the event as a chance for Sydney and Newcastle supporters to meet mining-affected communities over meals at Bulga, Camberwell, Muswellbrook, Wollar and Bylong.Read more
"The moment they choose to ignore those rules, their civil liberties go out the door."
This attitude is plain wrong. The consequence of this attitude is that 2 Australian citizens were wrongfully detained because of immigration failures:
We are all entitled to civil liberties, even when we do the wrong thing.
On Thursday (25/1/18) the Australian Fair Work Commission found the planned 24 hour strike and a ban on overtime by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union to be 'unlawful'. The decision to take strike action came after a lengthy period of negotiation with the employer in support of a pay and conditions claim, had failed to deliver an acceptable outcome.
Given the disturbing stagnation in workers’ wages in recent years, NSWCCL accepts that the Union's claim is justified and that this dispute will continue until satisfactorily resolved. Our main civil liberties concern is, however, the apparent broader implication of the judgement.
On face value-noting that more detailed reasons for the decision are yet to come from the Commission – the terms of the judgement appear to render future lawful strike action relating to major service delivery almost impossible.
The Commission found that the overtime ban and the proposed strike, separately and together, ‘threatens to endanger the welfare of a part of the population’ and ‘the industrial action threatens to cause significant damage to the economy of Sydney – the largest and most economically important city in Australia.’
The Commission’s ban is in force for 6 weeks. Hopefully in that period the Government might be more open to responding fairly to the Union’s claims. Otherwise, it is difficult to see – given the wording of the decision – that any future proposed strike by the union at a later date could be deemed lawful. (Or overtime ban, given that the actions were deemed separately certain to cause the specified harms).
The right to strike is a fundamental civil liberty and human right. This decision imposes unacceptable restrictions on the right of workers to withhold their labour to negotiate terms and conditions of their employment, without an agreement of just terms between the parties.
If the Fair Work Act allows this finding it should be amended.
NSWCCL has issued a public statement expressing its concern in relation to this decision.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks said he was concerned about the possibility of "function creep" with more and more law enforcement agencies pushing to use secret warrants.
"It's always disturbing when powers are given to agencies for terrorism, then another agency says they would like to use those for something else," he said.
"That is a problem with not drawing a line in the sand that says some powers are just too dangerous to be given to government agencies."
Source: Australian Financial Review
It is the latest way facial recognition technology is becoming part of day-to-day life - a move that has cybersecurity and privacy experts worried.
Stephen Blanks, from the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, says customers need to be wary about handing over their data.
"People have to understand that the data which is collected this way has potentially multiple and very valuable uses to the collector," Mr Blanks said.
He says the law is struggling to keep up with the fast developing technology, calling for better consumer protections.
There are calls for New South Wales Police to urgently review a secretive policy that targets children with house calls and public searches.
The Suspect Target Management Plan - or STOMP as it's known - is a program that aims to prevent crime by pre-emptively targeting people thought to be at risk of offending.
Sample data from 10 Local Area Commands, published in a recent report, reveals 45 per cent of people on the plan were Indigenous, and children as young as 10 were being targeted.
The Aboriginal Legal Service and the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties are calling for the program to be partially suspended until a review can take place.
NSW CCL President, Stephen Blanks says there is no publicly available evidence that the program works to prevent crime. "The police are structured in a way that there are no statistics recorded, no information provided, no oversight, just no accountability at all. The community has no way of knowing if its doing more harm than good."
He continued "It's disappointing that the police haven't reacted to the release of this report so far. There is an opportunity for the police to start a new chapter of community engagement and respond to this report by saying that they will allow some accountability, oversight and assessment of the program to see whether it is achieving its objectives. If the police don't do that themselves, than the government should step in and make it happen.
In the interim, some of the more obviously abusive elements of this program, the way that it's aimed at children for example, should be suspended until there is proper accountability and assessment.
The Minister has the power to direct the police in relation to implementation of programs of this kind. So, if the police don't reform themselves, then the Minister should be stepping in."
Source: ABC Radio PM
Mr Turnbull has previously said the data could be used to identify people at airports but also other public venues such as sporting venues and shopping centres.
The state-held data is already available to federal authorities, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said, but can take between 7-10 days to process.
Civil liberties groups said it was a “sad day” for Australia, while privacy advocates warned that it was “inevitable” the data compiled nationally for the first time would eventually be used for purposes besides counter-terrorism.
“This is a sad day when the leaders of our country say that civil liberties are not as important as they were previously, and that freedoms are to be subordinated to national security,” Stephen Blanks, President of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, told The New Daily.
Australian Privacy Foundation chair David Vaile told The New Daily that there would eventually be “scope creep”.
Source: The New Daily
Why Are People Concerned?
Digital Rights Watch is an Australian organisation that was established last year to help protect the digital rights of citizens. According to the organisation’s chair, Tim Singleton Norton, the new national facial recognition database is “a gross overreach into the privacy of everyday Australian citizens”.
“There is a severe lack of strong oversight mechanisms and general enforcement for human rights and civil liberties in this country, which results in the public being understandably wary about giving government more powers in the first place,” he said.
Singleton Norton pointed to recent data breaches from the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as evidence that the government was “ill-equipped to properly protect citizen’s data”.
“When individuals enter into an agreement with a government agency that includes their personal information, they should have the right to understand, be informed and have a say in where that information is held and what it’s being used for,” he said.
“Whilst we of course must ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the tools necessary to undertake their important work, this should not come at the expense of citizens’ rights to privacy.”
The new system has also been criticised by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. Their president, Stephen Blanks, said the proposal could undermine trust in government.
“It is quite alarming when information you have given to government for one purpose is then used for an entirely different purpose,” he said.
While NSW adopted a 14-day maximum pre-charge detention regime under former premier Mike Baird, the period is seven days in most states and only eight hours in South Australia.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties President Stephen Blanks told The New Daily the proposed pre-charge detention law was “draconian” and should not be nationalised.
“They are not consistent with fundamental freedoms and liberty,” he said.
But Deakin University terrorism expert Greg Barton said they would be “rarely used” because the Australian Federal Police was conscious of not losing the public’s confidence.
“As long as we see an approach that is cautious and measured, we should not be concerned,” Dr Barton told The New Daily.
Australian Privacy Foundation chair David Vaile said using state and territory drivers’ licenses for facial recognition was “a full-frontal attack on the core ideas behind data protection and privacy”.
Mr Vaile told The New Daily people did not consent for their photo or other data to be used by the federal government when they applied for drivers’ licenses.
Source: The New Daily