Pirate Party Australia is shocked at the recently signed memorandum of understanding between Australia and the United States.[1]

The “Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia On Enhancing Cooperation in Preventing and Combating Crime” (MOU) was signed on Wednesday by the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice and the United States Ambassador to Australia on behalf of the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security[2].

The MOU will allow United States law enforcement agencies to access the personal data of Australia citizens if “circumstances indicate that the data subject(s):

  • will commit or has committed terrorist or terrorism related offenses, or offenses related to a terrorist group or association, as  those offenses are defined under the supplying Participant’s laws; or
  • is undergoing or has undergone training to commit the offenses referred to in subparagraph 12.1(a); or
  • will commit or has committed a serious criminal offense, or participates in an organized criminal group or association.

Pirate Party Australia objects to the gross violations of privacy that may occur by affording United States law enforcement agencies access to personal data on mere suspicion, and are not convinced that the broad criteria of the MOU will provide enough protection of personal information.

This MOU comes at the same time as PM Julia Gillard announced Australia are working toward hosting approximately 250 US Marine personnel next year. “Over a number of years we intend to build on this relationship in a staged way to a full force of around 2,500 personnel, that is a full  Marine air-ground task force,” Ms Gillard explained further. This would be the largest US troop deployment to Australia since World War II[3].

“We are concerned that granting the United States access to personal data on such flimsy bases will lead to abuse of power and invasion of privacy. We question: how is ‘organized criminal group or association’ to be defined? What about WikiLeaks and its supporters? The Australian government has already shown its desire to persecute Julian Assange, despite it being clear that he has not committed a crime in this country,” said Pirate Party Australia Deputy President, Simon Frew.

“The US would like to get their hands on him and have used extraordinary powers to access information on WikiLeaks and its supporters, including accessing the Twitter accounts of Icelandic parliamentarian, Birgitta Jónsdóttir and others,”[4]

“Considering how rabid the US government is becoming on copyright issues, could this agreement be used against people who merely share files online? They have already attempted to extradite people from the UK in order to subject them to US Law. The same cannot be allowed to happen here. We should not be subject to the laws of a government we do not elect ourselves,” Mr Frew continued.

[1] http://www.zdnet.com.au/us-can-access-aussie-dna-personal-data-339326371.htm
[2] http://www.ministerhomeaffairs.gov.au/www/ministers/oconnor.nsf/page/MediaReleases_2011_FourthQuarter_16November2011-StatementonMemorandumofUnderstandingonCombatingCrime
[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15739995
[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/11/us-justice-department-legally-hacked-twitter

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