Due to public outcry over the vague and sinister proposals of the National Security Discussion Paper and Inquiry, more details about the proposal have come to light.
After refusing Pirate Party Australia’s freedom of information request to release draft legislation, the AGD has chosen to make their own submission to the Inquiry, and in a very revealing exchange at Senate Estimates, Senator Scott Ludlam received answers about long-standing questions regarding the definition of metadata. Transparency, strongly advocated by Pirate Party Australia, often yields a far more democratic outcome. This submission from the AGD highlights concerns many Australians have regarding the National Security Inquiry.
“It is a refreshing move for the AGD and the AFP to be this transparent about their National Security wishlist. This submission provides a far more democratic outcome, and offers some insight into what security agencies and the Attorney General’s Department hope to achieve through this inquiry,” commented David W. Campbell, President of Pirate Party Australia.
“While the submission is valuable for transparency, the contents are outrageous. Many of the more totalitarian interpretations of the vague discussion paper seem to be exactly what is on the table. The AFP appears to believe it is okay to access information about all Australians’ movements without any form of judicial oversight. If people understood that the Federal Police, among other agencies, could access information about their every movement they would be appalled. This is only one proposal in a wide-ranging inquiry that will dramatically expand police powers at the expense of our civil liberties and democratic rights,” Mr Campbell continued.
“The biggest concern contained within the Attorney General’s Department’s submission is the proposed assault on the right to remain silent. Refusing to decrypt data will be punishable by up to two years gaol. This applies to not only the sender and recipients of the communications, but anyone who may have the ability to decrypt the data, including systems administrators and people who have used the device,” Deputy President Simon Frew said.
With no feasible way to access encrypted communications, the government plans to empower security agencies to demand suspects hand over access to their most private data or risk being arrested and sentenced. It is a long held legal principle that individuals are not required to undertake any action that may incriminate themselves, a right which will be eliminated in many cases if certain proposals are passed into legislation.
“This is bad enough for ordinary people, but little concern is given for professionals who require private communications with clients. How long until lawyers’ emails to and from defendants are used as evidence against the defendant? How long until a lawyer has to go to gaol to protect the private communications of their client? What about a journalist protecting a whistleblower?” asked Mr Frew. “This will stifle the ability for society to scrutinise the Government. Considering that they blocked access to the draft bill that inspired the Inquiry, perhaps this is exactly what they want.”
Pirate Party Australia maintains an online petition against the proposals of the National Security Inquiry, which will be presented to the Senate. Concerned citizens are encouraged to sign the petition at http://pirateparty.org.au/natsecinquiry-petition/.