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Government lunges for unjustified online surveillance powers

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 4 May 2012

Australian Greens spokesperson for communications Senator Scott Ludlam today warned against further extending the loosely defined and already over-reaching online surveillance powers of Australia's intelligence agencies.

"Today's announcement starts the next chapter of the 'data retention' debate (#ozlog) which the Government should have backed away from. This is the idea that all our personal data should be stored by service providers so that every move we make can be surveilled or recalled for later data mining. It is premised on the unjustified paranoia that all Australians are potential criminal suspects."

"Australians are already under a phenomenal amount of government surveillance. Nearly a quarter of a million telecommunications data warrants were granted in 2010-11 according to the annual Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act report

"This includes detailed locational data logged by every smartphone, every minute of the day."

"The public knew about secret negotiations to create a data retention scheme by the Attorney General's Department, only because of a courageous leak. That whistleblower understood that giving data retention powers to law enforcement and intelligence agencies undermines the very rights and liberties they are ostensibly empowered to protect."

"Data retention as envisaged by this government will entrench enormous databases that can be mined for precise patterns of our movements, purchases, interests, friends and conversations. This interception, copying, recording and disclosure of our data is a means to retroactively police the whole population."

"While the Greens welcome a public consultation on the proposed changes to ASIO's powers, the Attorney General's Department is notorious for cheerfully ignoring the advice of experts, interest groups and the general public."

"This looks like an ambit claim for surveillance overkill, but nevertheless, the Australian Greens will work closely with legal and privacy experts as well as ISPs and concerned citizens to turn back this unwarranted invasion of Australians' online privacy."


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