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Journalist shield laws welcome, but no protection against universal surveillance

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 19 Jun 2013

Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam welcomed today's news the Government will pursue nationally consistent journalist shield laws but warned they would offer little protection in the face of ubiquitous metadata surveillance and the Government's proposed data retention scheme.

"Data retention has serious consequences for press freedom. It is impossible for journalist shield laws or whistleblower laws - basic requirements in a functioning democracy - to be effective if data retention will allow for hunting down sources through telephone and email records," said Senator Ludlam.

"If the Government is serious about shield laws that will help the media hold government and corporate power to account - it must abandon the data retention scheme and do all it can to refuse and resist foreign governments spying on Australians."

Yesterday Senator Ludlam introduced the ‘Get A Warrant' Bill which will amend the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act to make government agencies get a warrant to access communication records.

"In 2011-2012 government agencies, not including ASIO, made 293,501 requests to access communications data - without a warrant. Unless our amendment to the Act is accepted, journalist shield laws will be basically worthless because government agencies will be able to track down journalists' sources. Shield laws are not enough - we need to defend the privacy of 22 million Australians."


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