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29 MARCH 2021
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties calls on the Federal Government to end the ban on leaving Australia and introduce clear and transparent rules for who gets to enter Australia.
This week marks a year since the imposition of both inward and outward travel bans. The government has adopted an authoritarian approach to the issue of incoming and outgoing travellers rather than improving the hotel quarantine system. This approach must now end.Read more
Media coverage: InnovationAus
Civil society has been “completely sidelined and ignored” in the inquiry into the government’s proposed new hacking powers, after no civil or digital rights groups were invited to the only public hearing, Deakin University senior lecturer Dr Monique Mann says.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) is conducting an inquiry into the Identify and Disrupt Bill, which hands sweeping powers to the Federal Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to hack into the devices and networks of suspected criminals to ‘disrupt’ their data and covertly take over their accounts.
The PJCIS held its only public hearing as part of its inquiry last week, but no civil or digital rights organisations were invited to appear before the committee.
The NSW Council of Civil Liberties labelled the proposed laws a “catch-all formula for abuse” and “next in an accelerating wave, strengthening the powers of the state without any humility about the cumulative erosion of democratic freedoms they entail”.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has concerns with the potential for sharing of personal and health information collected using the ServiceNSW check in tool.
The following correspondence, addressing our concerns, was sent to Minister Dominello, Department Customer Services. Similar letters were sent to Minister Hazzard and Minister Elliott.Read more
25 February 2021
Asylum seekers who are denied visas by Mr. Dutton, the Minister for Home Affairs, will now face fees of $3,330 to appeal to the Federal Circuit Court to have his decisions reviewed and overturned. This is a clear, deliberate and unconscionable action by the Morrison Government to deny asylum seekers access to the Courts and to justice.Read more
On 1st February 2021, NSWCCL Vice-President and Convenor of the Civil and Human Rights Action Group, Jared Wilk, appeared at the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy hearing on the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020.Read more
Media coverage: The Star Observer
The New South Wales Parliament has permitted One Nations leader Mark Latham to lead an inquiry into his own controversial Bill.
The Parliament committee headed by Mark Latham is inviting submissions through an online questionnaire and LGBTQI advocacy organisations are asking the community to register their protest against the Bill.
The Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 says its aim is to give parents, not schools, the primary responsibility “for the moral, ethical, political and social development of their children.” The Bill allows parents to object to the teaching of anything related to gender identity and sexuality in schools if it contradicts their values.
The danger from the Bill is not just to the LGBTQI community. The NSW Council For Civil Liberties said that if the Bill is enacted, “parents could object to curriculum that covers Australian Indigenous history, the Stolen Generations, climate change, immunisation, evolution, LGBTIQ+ people, different cultures and religions, science, refugees and people seeking asylum.”
The Council said it was important to ensure the NSW Parliament “rejects this unnecessary and harmful bill.”
The submissions to the inquiry into Mark Latham’s Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 can be made by filling the online questionnaire here.
On 18 December 2020, the Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report criticising the effectiveness of Service NSW’s handling of customers’ personal information to ensure privacy. NSWCCL has long held concerns over the manner of the use, collection, and storage of personal information of NSW citizens by the NSW government. The damning report highlights the lack of understanding and commitment to proper privacy practices in the NSW public service.
The report states that “Service NSW is not effectively handling personal customer and business information to ensure its privacy. It continues to use business processes that pose a risk to the privacy of personal information. These include routinely emailing personal customer information to client agencies, which is one of the processes that contributed to the March 2020 data breach. Previously identified risks and recommended solutions had not been implemented on a timely basis.”
The Auditor-General made eight recommendations aimed at ensuring improved processes, technologies, and governance arrangements for how Service NSW handles customers’ personal information. These included, as a matter of urgency, that Service NSW should, in consultation with relevant NSW government departments and agencies, and the Department of Customer Service, implement a solution for a secure method of transferring personal information between Service NSW and those agencies.
The 2019–20 bushfire emergency and COVID 19 pandemic restrictions have dramatically increased Service NSW processes. Additionally, as of 1 January 2021, s. 36(3)(a1) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 7), requires people who enter a hospitality venue or hairdressing salon to register their contact details electronically with Service NSW (known as the COVID-19 Safe Check-in tool and generally using QR codes). Those details are kept for a period of 28 days and, if requested, will be provided to the Chief Health Officer for contact tracing purposes.
Several issues arise from the report’s findings and the use of personal information for the COVID-19 Safe Check-in tool:
We have already seen that the Singapore TraceTogether App, on which the COVIDSafe App was based, can be accessed by police in the course of a criminal investigation.
NSWCCL strongly opposes the use of information gathered for health purposes being used for law enforcement or any other additional purpose.
Apart from the obvious areas of misuse of personal data and “big Brother” implications there is a strong possibility that, if aware police can use the data, many citizens of both innocent and criminal means will choose to enter false and misleading data.
The NSW government should be assuring NSW citizens that information gathered will be used only for its primary purpose. Ideally, the management of the COVID-19 Safe check-in tool needs to be enacted in primary legislation, not just in an Order.
2) When the QR code is scanned at a venue, Service NSW will collect your name, contact details time and date of entry and, crucially, your location. Collection of this information is mandatory to gain entry.
Opting out of digital interactions is not a realistic option for most people. Balancing interests therefore amounts to having to agree to terms of access or risking the suffering of economic disadvantage, discrimination, or social exclusion. Community sentiment suggests that location data should be considered highly sensitive.
A breach of this information means that an individual could be tracked, profiled, targeted, or otherwise impacted upon. NSWCCL believes that is a privacy harm which requires greater protection.
3) Service NSW is a custodian of our data and any disclosure of our personal information to third parties and agencies should only occur in very limited circumstances. The Auditor General has identified that Service NSW has been deficient in its agreements with client agencies as well as its policies and processes for managing privacy risk.
There is therefore little reason to trust that Service NSW will protect our personal sensitive information. Service NSW must adopt the recommendations of the Auditor General immediately.
 The March data breach refers to two external threats targeting the email accounts of 47 staff members, resulting in the breach of a large amount of personal customer information held in those email accounts. See Report; “client agencies” is a reference to NSW Government agencies that delegate to and enter into agreements with the Chief Executive Officer of Service NSW in order for Service NSW to undertake service functions for the agency.
 Han, K (11 Jan 2021) Broken promises: How Singapore lost trust on contact tracing privacy MIT Technology Review <https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/11/1016004/singapore-tracetogether-contact-tracing-police/>