Since reports first surfaced of issues with Centrelink’s new data matching systems linked to Australian Tax Office data, Pirate Party Australia’s social media accounts have been swamped with stories of incorrect debt claims going back many years, including debts from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

It is clear from many reports that Centrelink is automatically generating flawed debts based on algorithms that will obviously produce incorrect results[1], this new attempt by the government to crassly reduce spending on social security has revealed their true policy: to treat anyone who makes a legitimate claim as guilty until proven innocent. Continue reading

The Pirate Party welcomes the news that the Greens have adopted an evidence-based policy on drug use that focuses on harm minimisation[1].

“The Pirate Party’s policy has always been evidence-based, and we support many of the harm minimisation techniques that the Greens have now adopted. It’s good to see that Australians are increasingly seeing the need for policy developed on a firm basis of evidence,” commented Pirate Party President Simon Frew. “Drug policies should focus on reducing harm to individuals and society, not just criminalising recreational users and addicts.”

Continue reading

In August 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics attempted to run the 2016 Census. The Census was plagued by privacy issues and technical mishaps, in what is potentially Australia’s biggest privacy blunder of the year. For the first time since the Census began, the ABS had decided to not only take down your name and address, but also store these details and link them together with other data sets. The Pirate Party would love to explain which data sets now are intrinsically linked to your information, but it turns out that not even the ABS has the answer to this question.

On Thursday 24 November 2016, the Senate Economics References Committee delivered its report on the 2016 Census[1]. The report shows that the ABS ignored the results of a privacy assessment conducted by an external reviewer in 2005, an assessment which showed that retaining names and addresses had serious privacy implications. Instead, they decided to run their own internal privacy assessment in 2015, which surprisingly came to the complete opposite decision. The ABS then concluded on the basis of this self-run privacy assessment, along with a whole three submissions from the public (all of which expressed negative doubts about the retention of names), that retaining names was definitely a good idea.

Continue reading

The Pirate Party urges caution following the announcement by the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, that retrospective legislation will be introduced to criminalise the re-identification of de-identified government data. The threat of retrospective legislation may be a ploy to silence critics of the government for discussing flaws in government-published datasets without due process. Consequently, this may prevent anyone bringing security flaws in government practices to attention — including the attention of the Government.

In a media release issued on Wednesday afternoon[1] the Attorney-General announced his intention to introduce new laws aimed at protecting data published by the Government. These changes appear to completely miss their mark, and may in fact criminalise the inspection of datasets for flaws and faults. The broad terms of the proposal could easily implicate any researchers in the field of data anonymity — anyone whose research involves examining datasets for potential privacy flaws.

Continue reading

With fresh moves afoot to remove the words insult and offend from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act[1], the Pirate Party calls upon Parliament to get serious about supporting free speech.

“Pirate Party Australia is well aware of the risks around state censorship of opinions,” said Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “We fought the Internet censorship laws of the Rudd Government and we opposed the Gillard Government’s attempt to extend section 18C in ways that would have banned causing offence on the grounds of religion and political opinion.”

Continue reading