Pirate Party Australia accepts PM Morrison’s “Declaration of War”

In a world leading move, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again declared his intent to crack down on human rights in Australia, by announcing restrictions to online anonymity1. Privacy is a fundamental right of free and open democracies, so the Pirate Party has defended privacy in Australia since its inception in 2008. This is despite the fashionable excuse to look tough on socially unacceptable trends, the latest of which is online trolling. But the Prime Minister’s falling polls are simply not a good enough excuse. Privacy is an essential underpinning of human dignity, encompassing the freedom to control your cultural presence, and manage your own identity. A free and trusting society cannot exist without the protection of an individual’s private life.2

“While back benchers set up anonymous profiles to undermine their critics, the Government points the fingers at others doing similar. Of course, it’s fine when the Government does something dodgy – it’s only wrong when others do it,” said Pirate Party justice spokesperson Brandon Selic.

The Pirate Party stands with the approximately 26 million Australians who do not have access to parliamentary privilege and maintain a right to anonymity in the face of so called “SLAPP” lawsuits designed to discourage public criticism of government figures. This is especially notable given Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton’s recent defamation suit against refugee advocate Shane Bazzi.3

Despite vagueness of the announcement, these new powers are likely only to be enacted through civil court cases, meaning it is out of reach for any Australians without the time, energy or financial resources to pursue. Communications experts claim this will not help 99% of victims of trolling in Australia.4,5 Even advocates for ending online abuse are claiming the measures will be ineffective, such as non-profit Reset Australia.6

“The right to criticise governments and elected representatives is a necessary freedom in any democracy. Increasingly restrictive legislation and the threat of legal action have a very chilling effect on free speech by suppressing the opinions of ordinary Australians and concentrating the control of public discourse to a small number of media organisations and online social platforms, ” said Pirate Party civil liberties spokesperson David Kennedy.

So the Pirate Party accepts Scott Morrison’s war against human rights, on behalf of ordinary Australians who understand that to the failing Liberal-National government, “criticism” and “bullying” are indistinguishable. Twitter user @marleyhodgman put it best: “It is, of course, not designed to prevent online bullying. It’s designed to enable offline bullying, by the Duttons of the world.”7

References and further reading:

1: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/combatting-online-trolls-and-strengthening-defamation-laws

2: https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform#Privacy

3: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-06/peter-dutton-defamation-case-against-refugee-advocate/100517922

4: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/federal-government-social-media-big-tech-crackdown-trolls-defamation-law

5: https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/morrison-s-war-on-trolls-offers-a-tantalising-future-20211129-p59d6i.html

6: https://au.reset.tech/news/troll-hunting-isn-t-solution-to-social-media-s-hate-problem/

7: https://twitter.com/marleyhodgman/status/1465403511810637824

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