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 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.
As millions of people simultaneously attempted to log in to complete their census forms last night, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) servers failed under the enormous traffic load. The ABS has blamed this on a hardware router failure, a false positive in a monitoring system, and external attackers who were allegedly attempting to overload the servers through a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack occurring at the same time. David Kalisch, head of the ABS, claimed that the servers were taken offline between 7:30 pm AEST, after which time the main social media accounts continued to advise people that there was no problem and to complete the Census forms until 10 pm.
“The public was advised prior to the Census that it would not be a target for attack. The claims made after the event call into question the competence of those who planned the Census, as well as the Minister responsible,” commented Simon Frew, Pirate Party President. “The ABS has already breached the public’s trust by admitting to retaining personal information and enabling the linking of external datasets. They have now made that worse by incompetently allowing the online data collection to fail.”
Despite the serious privacy concerns first raised by the Pirate Party in March, and now shared by thousands of Australians as well as the Greens, Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has continued to forge ahead with the invasive 2016 Census. For the first time the ABS is planning to keep names for four years, linking very personal information asked by the Census questionnaire. Like many, the Pirate Party has raised objections to the collection of identifying information, and now calls on the ABS to declare the giving of “Name” and “Address” optional.
“The ABS has not properly consulted with the Australian public on this new, more invasive version of the Census,” said Simon Frew, President of the Pirate Party. “Names are not required by law according to former Australian Statistician Bill McLennan [PDF], and it is difficult to see how names could help with statistical analysis. Collecting names does, however, increase the danger of privacy breaches for Australian citizens which, given the ABS has been subject to 14 data breaches in the last three years, is particularly concerning. A simple way for the ABS put many Australians at ease is to make it optional for people to give their names and address.”
“Pirate Party Australia is proud to announce that digital rights are central to our campaign in the 2016 Federal election. Campaigning under the slogan ‘Transparency Liberty Digital Rights,’ or TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read), we aim to reverse the trend of governments operating under an increasingly dense veil of secrecy, whilst subjecting citizens to increasingly intrusive surveillance.” said Lachlan Simpson, Pirate Party candidate for the Victorian Senate.
“The Internet has been under attack from successive governments. The Abbott/Turnbull government has passed a mass surveillance regime and legislation to enable Internet censorship, with the support of the ALP,” continued Lachlan. “We pledge to fight tirelessly for Internet freedom. Pirate Party Australia has an extensive platform on digital liberties and was formed precisely to oppose such attacks on our rights.”
Since 9/11 Australia has passed more than 40 different terrorism related pieces of legislation. These have generally been passed with bi-partisan support and include many attacks on basic human rights. We are now under warrantless mass surveillance, journalists can be jailed for reporting on investigations, citizens can be detained without charge and ASIO can theoretically hack the entire Internet under a single warrant. Continue reading
For several months now, the Pirate Party has been working with ThoughtWorks to develop a digital tool that could change the game for small political parties and community groups in Australia.
“It is hard to run a community group or a political party in this country”, said Thomas Randle, Councillor for Pirate Party Australia. “Anyone in the community group space will know how punishing the red tape has become, and how many different pieces of software are needed to protect membership lists and deal with the administration”.
Not any more though: the Pirate Party intends to launch a new, specialised membership management tool customised for the needs of Australia’s struggling small parties and community groups. This new software not only protects membership data to the highest standard, it also allows a party to easily meet AEC audit requirements. It contains tailored software designed to simplify administration and financial management. It also has mechanisms to manage member communication. It is an all-in-one party management tool which replaces a whole mass of disconnected software programs and also adds a range of new functions which parties and groups need. This powerful software should free up significant resources and time so that community groups and small parties can focus on their important work.
“The best news is, this software will be totally free”, said Mr Randle. “In line with the Pirate Party’s ethos, we are sharing this product as open source freeware, and encouraging anyone interested to get involved in improving and updating it”.
The Pirate Party has started a fundraising drive to help us meet the costs of bringing this project to completion. We are appealing to anyone who wants to make a difference to chip in and help to make this happen.
“A donation to this project won’t be consumed and used up—our goal here is to permanently lift the tide under every community group and small party in Australia”, he noted.
To help and for more information, please check out the campaign page here: http://www.pozible.com/memberdb