Australian Sex Party Condemns Information Snooping Act

Mar 7, 2011 9:00 AM PST
MELBOURNE — The Australian Sex Party has condemned the Senate’s passing of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment Act of 2010 claiming the measure gives sweeping new powers to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO).

The Party said the Act will be deployed against anti-censorship groups like WikiLeaks and enables the sharing of private information between all government departments with no independent monitoring, continuing the increasingly unaccountable nature of ASIO, "begun by John Howard a decade ago."

Spokesperson for Security, Law Enforcement and Privacy and Sex Party candidate in the upcoming NSW election, Andrew Patterson said that the legislation handed ASIO and other law enforcement agencies further unchecked powers to invade an individual's privacy and engage in activities that undermine basic rights.

He added, that the tendency for governments to abandon the need for warrants in maintaining law and order as well as the exclusion of the Commonwealth Ombudsman from new legislation, represented the most serious breach of civil liberties in Australia.

"The Labor government, with support from the Coalition, has passed this Act supposedly as a way to facilitate inter-governmental communication and enable networks to be protected; whereas, in classic Orwellian newspeak, the Act allows all Federal and State government departments to access any information ASIO gathers, whether it pertains to actual crimes or not,” Patterson said.

The Party explained that all forms of networks, from telecommunication networks to the public Internet are covered in the new Act that allows call records, access history, phone numbers, IP addresses, email addresses and any other form of identifiable number that an individual uses to be collected.

The Act also allows for interception of voice calls, text messages and data transmissions meaning records of any phone call that an individual makes, or any website they visit can now be stored by ASIO and shared with all government departments.

The party pointed out that storage of such information is often not covered by the Privacy Act.

Patterson said that what made this development even more worrying was that ASIO could also share this information with the "broader national security community."

“This ambiguous terminology means that the information can be shared worldwide and unchecked. Once ASIO shares this data with any foreign nation, all control over it will be lost,” Patterson said.

He added, “Passing this Act also shows that the Government hasn't learned from its recent mistakes and is continuing it’s broad references to 'national security,' a concept which remains completely undefined and unchallenged and as we have seen, can easily be misused."

Peak law and privacy advocates, such as the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, the Australian Privacy Foundation, the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties all voiced concerns and criticism over the Act, all of which, according to the Sex Party, fell on deaf ears.

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