The Pirate Party is critical of the Government’s secrecy surrounding its most recent discussion paper on data retention. While the public is yet to see a formal proposal, telecommunications providers were given confidential advanced copies last Friday[1].

Pirate Party President Brendan Molloy commented: “No reason has been given for why the public must remain in the dark. This is a fundamentally undemocratic approach that excludes the major stakeholder — the Australian public. Botched media interviews and confused, conflicting statements over the past weeks have not provided any reassurance to Australians that the Government is competent enough to understand the enormous implications data retention has for our privacy. This is a highly controversial policy, and one that has already been rejected in the European Union precisely because it threatens privacy to such an unreasonable degree[2]. It is a complex area that needs great consideration and maximum public participation.

“No justifiable reason to store information that reveals individuals’ locations has been provided, let alone allowing access without a warrant. The Pirate Party’s position has been and continues to be that the threshold for access to stored data under existing arrangements is already too low, and must require a warrant. This extends to any further proposals.

“It also seems, despite the Attorney-General dismissing the suggestion, that the storage of information relating to download volumes is for the benefit of the copyright lobby. This was not on the cards previously, and we cannot fathom what use this information would be to the investigation of terrorism and other serious crimes.

“To mandate the retention of such vast quantities of information on all Australians is not a proportional nor necessary response to the perceived threats. The Attorney-General must immediately release this document in full, as well as future documents. Australians at large are the biggest stakeholders in these proposals, and have the right to be informed.”


The Pirate Party denounces any attempts to include certification provisions in the highly secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The United States, one of twelve negotiating nations including Australia, may be given the power to opt-out of the Agreement if countries do not implement the TPP according to the standards of the United States Trade Representative. This has been used by the United States to pressure other countries into adopting its interpretation of trade agreements[1].

These provisions give an inordinate amount of leverage to the US Government to pressure treaty partners, such as Australia, to alter and adopt laws that go beyond the negotiated text of the treaty. In practice this could result in a situation where the US Government and its advisors are approving, or even drafting, Australian laws to ensure they comply with the interests and expectations of the United States.

Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party, commented: “This is an egregious overreach. I daresay that any Australian government that signs such an unbalanced agreement, which puts such an unequal share of power in the hands of a foreign entity, is guilty of betraying the interests of the Australian people. A partnership where all parties do not have equal power is not a partnership. By signing such a fundamentally unbalanced agreement, Australia would be granting the US significant control of our sovereignty, making us effectively a vassal of the United States.

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In response to the recent announcement that the Government will pursue a mandatory two-year data retention regime in Australia, Electronic Frontiers Australia and GetUp! have launched a petition opposing these plans[1]. The Pirate Party, which had a similar petition tabled in the Senate in February 2013[2], is fully supportive of the initiative and encourages all Australians concerned about their privacy and incursions into their right to free expression to sign it.

The petition is available at–2/sign-the-petition

“Metadata is everything and nothing if you believe what has been unthinkingly blurted by each Government minister given the opportunity to ramble aimlessly on a topic they have no understanding of[3][4],” said Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party. “What is clear is that there are far-reaching, negative consequences of the introduction of any data retention regime and we are wholeheartedly against their introduction.

“Please sign this petition to show that Australians are firmly against data retention measures that would not only be ineffective at combatting crime but would also unnecessarily and disproportionately impact on our civil rights to privacy and free expression. Australians have the right not to be treated as criminals by default. We’ve fought it before, we’ll fight it again, and we’ll win.”

The significant majority (98.9% by some estimates[5][6]) of submissions made to the National Security Inquiry in 2012-13 were against the introduction of a data retention regime.

It is unclear just what data will be collected and stored under the retention regime, however it appears from comments made by the Attorney-General that it will extend as far as the websites that Internet users visit. No legislation has been proposed, making it incredibly difficult to critique the proposals in detail.

[4] (necessary listening for all true masochists)

The Pirate Party is vehemently opposed to any proposals for data retention being put forward by the Abbott Government[1]. It has been announced that the National Security Committee[2], part of the Cabinet, has signed off on proposals to store all telecommunications “metadata” for two years, meaning that everyone with a phone or Internet connection will have the details of their communications stored. This proposal is being justified as necessary on tenuous “national security” grounds and on the basis that content of communications will be excluded.

“It is wholly inappropriate for a digitally illiterate cabal of politicians to determine what is appropriate policy in this area at all. The media also continues to fuel misinformation regarding what is being proposed here and it must stop,” said Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party.

“Storing 24 months worth of metadata from Internet-based communications is not comparable to storing the time and phone number of a phone call. Internet metadata can identify not only who you contacted and when, but dependent on the device you are using, it could include your exact position during that communication, the subject matter of the communication, the context of the communication, and a whole wealth of other information that could not be gathered from the content.

“This is a grotesque attack on every Australian’s right to privacy and the legal principle of being treated as innocent until proven guilty, as a blanket Internet surveillance regime treats us all as suspects, sucking up a wealth of data that goes significantly beyond the pre-digital era definition of metadata. Metadata is personally identifiable information; it is private, and it should require a warrant for collection and access. The potential for abuse greatly outweighs any positives there may be.

“The smallest, most reasonable gesture the Government could perform is to seriously undertake an open and considered consultation process on these proposals, and allow those who understand the implications of what is being proposed to demonstrate what an absurdly disproportionate and undesirable proposal it is.

“The worst part is that there is no evidence that this will help fight ‘terrorism’ at all. If we look to the US, despite their global wiretapping regime, domestic terror attacks such as the Boston Bombings were not thwarted by the wide-scale, dragnet surveillance of people around the world. Why would it work here?”

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The Pirate Party is critical of the Attorney-General’s Department’s recently released Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper[1], citing a number of concerns relating to the approach of the paper, its timing and the apparent influence of industry lobbyists.

Pirate Party President-elect, Brendan Molloy, commented: “The Discussion Paper makes a number of misleading assumptions and unsubstantiated claims, while failing to adequately address issues of affordability and accessibility. Instead of addressing the reality that Australians are paying more money for less content than other countries, the Discussion Paper is biased towards turning Internet service providers into ‘Internet police’ and censorship in the form of website blocking, neither of which have proven effective overseas.

“The Government has taken up the cause of the copyright industry lobbyists at an alarming speed. This issue was not on the Government’s agenda prior to the election, and it is only since February that the Attorney-General has given a clear indication of the Government’s direction on this issue. The Government wants Australian Internet service providers to police Australian citizens. Recent studies have shown this will be ineffective[2][3], and increased costs will be passed on to Australians consumers.

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