Privacy and anonymity

Privacy should be simple

It’s about you and your right to decide not only who knows your private information, but also what pieces of information they know and what they can do with it. Privacy is something intrinsically human: it forms an essential part of our self worth and dignity, we expect it and we respect the privacy of others in return. It’s the reason we password protect our email and expect our phone bill to be in an envelope.

The Pirate Party’s position on privacy is similarly simple – All people should be guaranteed the right to privacy, in the same way all people should be guaranteed the right to walk safely down a street footpath without fear of harassment or violence. The power to divulge your personal information should lie solely with you. Our homes, movements, associations and relationships with others must be recognised by the law as private and personal. We believe that, whether it be a public institution or a business, any breach of personal information must be disclosed to those affected as soon as practically possible for the public to have confidence and trust in those organisations holding personal information.

Anonymity is also something most of us practice everyday, activities like buying a newspaper or milk with cash, reading or researching in a library, getting on a train and going to the football. Anonymity is also recognised by law enforcement as a necessary tool in solving serious crime. Whistleblowers may remain anonymous while disclosing corporate or government crime, corruption or malfeasance. A whistleblower needs the protection of anonymity so as to complete a disclosure in the public interest before any retribution can be ordered. Practising anonymity is an example of interacting with others privately – as our names are personal information, and often not necessary to the task at hand, we often act anonymously without even thinking about it.

Both the Labor and Liberal parties support internet censorship on all Australians and joined together in 2015 to legislate an internet censorship regime, which necessarily requires monitoring and inspecting everything you do online before either allowing or blocking it. Together they have eroded civil liberties for over a decade, with massive expansions of secret security agencies and the powers of the deep state.

Edward Snowden quote: "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you"
Edward Snowden. CC-BY Freedom of the Press Foundation.

CCTV cameras barely reduce crime at best, but they do have an effect on those nearby – a person will change their behaviour if they feel watched. Similarly, if we feel our calls are being listened to, or a record is being kept of what we read, we will keep this in mind when discussing and reading things, and quite possibly decide not to discuss or read some topics. This invasion of our private lives is unacceptable. Self-censorship presents a grave danger to democracy and free civil society – if we feel we can’t speak, we won’t. If we don’t speak, our political discourse suffers. This is the antithesis of a free and democratic society, and a policy position which the Pirate Party actively resists.

Warrantless recording of information from every single phone call and internet connection is now a reality for every Australian, with the cost of this massive surveillance program added to your phone and internet bills. Such a proposal would have once been condemned from the outset, not just because of the overt suspicion placed on everyone – young and old – but also because any place which stores this data is ripe for attack, with the stakes being *all* our most private information. One of the Pirate Party’s first actions should we be elected to federal parliament will be to demand the immediate repeal of mass surveillance data retention laws without replacement.