NSWCCL in the media

Should schools know about students' criminal records?

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Natassia Chrysanthos and Jordan Baker examine calls from the father of a rape victim for a confidential database, which would record details of students charged with rape, sexual harassment or intimidation, so principals could be notified if they needed to keep an eye on particular students.  

The story quotes former NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Nicholas Cowdery, who said the non-publication principles that guided police and the Children’s Court also applied to the school system.

“The department and schools would have no way of getting that information unless it were volunteered,” he said.

Mr Cowdery said a balance was required. “Whenever that applies there will be differing views about where the balance should be struck. The law leans heavily towards the privacy of children and their welfare [and] therapy,” he said.

“The question arises at a practical level: if the department or schools had such information, what would they do with it? My view is that if such offenders have been dealt with it should be left to the police and courts to put in place the best regimes for dealing with future risk.”

More information - read the full story: Up to 5000 NSW students are convicted of a crime every year. The schools are never told


Operation Ironside shows Australia is an outlier on human rights

The ABC's Ursula Malone examines why nobody in America was arrested as part of Operation Ironside - a global sting known as "Trojan Horse" that brought down hundreds of alleged Australian criminals.

'The FBI — with help from Australia and an unnamed third country — was spying on millions of messages in over 90 countries as part of the operation. The AFP made more than 500 arrests but US privacy laws stopped the same from happening there.'

NSW President Pauline Wright commented that the US had 'pretty strict protections around human rights and privacy' which Australia did not have.

'It illustrates that Australia is an outlier in terms of protections for human rights and civil liberties,' she said. 'It's good that we're able to disrupt organised crime but in doing so what we are really concerned about is that innocent parties' data could be obtained, stored and used in ways that they would never have foreseen.'

For more, read the full article: Why no-one in America was arrested as part of Operation Ironside




Is the Australian club considering ethnicity in membership decisions, asks Sky

Sky News host Chris Kenny reports that the Australian Club is considering admit female members, a topic of 'raging debate' that's due for a vote. Kenny has no problem with single sex clubs, but is troubled by comments around the admission of 'members of Asian race'. 

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Pauline Wright advises that there's no legal reason a club shouldn't admit whoever it chooses, but comments that would lead to 'excluding a huge swathe of intelligent, clever people you might want to know'.



Missing in action? Or shouting into the void?

The Sydney Morning Heral's Michael Koziol looks back at a year during which civil liberties became an 'acceptable casualty' of efforts to counter the pandemic. He asks: "But what of the civil libertarians and rights organisations whose job – whose raison d’etre – is to fight for individual freedoms against state power? Did they abandon the field? Or have they been fruitlessly shouting into the void?"

NSW President Pauline Wright says that activists were very active, but rarely heard.

Read the full article here: ‘Missing in action’: What happened to the civil liberties movement?



Critics label data-sharing Bill as 'eroding privacy in favour of bureaucratic convenience'

Facing the Senate committee, probing the Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020, was Jonathan Gadir from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, who highlighted the discrepancy between the goals of the Bill and what it actually allows to occur.


Read more

Government milkshake consent video 'fell well short of the mark'


NSWCCL on proposed national data sharing agreement

Media coverage: ITNews

'Federal, state and territory leaders have agreed to create an intergovernmental agreement to facilitate greater data sharing between all levels of government.

The plan for the high-level agreement, which is still to be developed, was endorsed at a meeting of national cabinet.

“National cabinet agreed that jurisdictions will work together to capitalise on the value of public data to achieve better outcomes for Australians,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

While details remain scarce, the pact will likely make it easier for federal, state and territory government to share data, building on efforts with health and travel data during Covid-19.

The planned agreement would likely work alongside the Data Availability and Transparency Bill, which is currently before federal parliament.

The legislation aims to streamline data sharing between governments and the private sector, overriding some 500 provisions in 175 pieces of existing legislation.

But it faces calls for amendments from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Australian Medical Association and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.'

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Privacy experts sound alarm over COVID QR codes

Media coverage: Sydney Morning Herald

'Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has promised mandatory venue check-ins will be lifted “as soon as we get the green light from health experts”, as privacy experts warn the COVID-19 check-in tool lacks safeguards.

Mr Dominello said the QR code system was only intended for contact tracing during “pandemic conditions” but those might continue for some time....

Mr Dominello said the data was securely stored for 28 days and then destroyed, and “under no circumstance ... shared with other parties or agencies outside NSW Health”. Privacy was at the “forefront of our thinking” when delivering digital services, he said.

But Michelle Falstein, secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, warned personal data collected by the check-in tool could be used for purposes other than contact tracing.

“Such broad purpose could enable the sharing of health information with police or for any other number of additional, loosely linked purposes not anticipated by the public,” Ms Falstein said in a letter to Mr Dominello. 

Ms Falstein also expressed concern about the lack of an end date for use of the check-in tool to enter businesses such as pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues.'

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NSWCCL warns over QR code data

The Sydney Morning Herald examines a promise from Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello that mandatory venue check-ins will be lifted “as soon as we get the green light from health experts”.

But Michelle Falstein, secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, warned personal data collected by the check-in tool could be used for purposes other than contact tracing.

“Such broad purpose could enable the sharing of health information with police or for any other number of additional, loosely linked purposes not anticipated by the public,” Ms Falstein said.

For more, read the full article: ‘This must not be permanent’: Privacy experts sound alarm over QR codes SMH 10 April '21


Vaccine ‘passports’: a legal and ethical minefield

Media coverage: Spectator Australia

'On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. An important aspect of this plan is vaccine ‘passports’, even though, as Fraser Nelson wrote on The Spectator’s Coffee House website the next day, Johnson didn’t want to admit to them. He referred to his plans as ‘Covid status certification’. 

Such a plan is fraught with several legal and ethical questions, leading to many MPs voicing strong opposition to vaccine ‘passports’. Last weekend a group of 72 MPs signed a pledge against them. This ‘cross-party coalition’ includes Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has stated vaccine ‘passports’ would be against the “British instinct”. Another signatory is Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. One of the Conservative signatories, Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, said: “COVID-status certification would be divisive and discriminatory.” He added: “With high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not to put permanent restrictions in place.”

Therein lies the problem...

With regard to vaccine ‘passports’ for travel, NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesperson Stephen Blanks said last November that the Federal Government would need to ensure that appropriate allowances are made for people who have legitimate reasons for not getting vaccinated. Those reasons could be health, religious or conscientious based. Such reasons would be protected in accordance with articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Australia has ratified. Those articles guarantee freedom of speech, conscience and religion.'

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