Statistics from a recent online poll conducted by Essential Research indicate that 80% of the population is opposed to warrantless access of phone and Internet records by the Government. The poll surveyed 1,017 respondents between 14 and 17 February, and a final report is expected to be released soon. The results come as the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is conducting a comprehensive revision of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to address such concerns.
Pirate Party Australia holds the view that any surveillance conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies must only be carried out when there is enough evidence for the investigators to obtain a warrant. Every use of surveillance is an intrusion of a citizen’s personal privacy and the statistics show the vast majority of Australians believe there must be sufficient evidence that the privacy breach is necessary before surveillance can be undertaken.
“This is a vindication for everyone who is working to put a stop to the warrantless surveillance that has become prevalent over the last few years,” commented Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “In the last telecommunications and surveillance annual report there were over 300,000 uses of Australians’ metadata without a warrant. This could amount to about 1 in 70 Australians having their privacy breached with no judicial oversight. This needs to be put to a stop immediately.”
The results show that 71% of Coalition voters oppose warrantless access, suggesting that it is in the Government’s best interests to prohibit warrantless access to communications records to maintain public support. The Pirate Party and other activist organisations have been concerned about the lack of judicial oversight, and Essential Research’s poll suggests that the bulk of Australians are too.