Parliament approves mass surveillance of all Australians

Last night the Federal Parliament voted to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to an unprecedented amount of information on all Australians.1 The Coalition Government and Australian Labor Party gleefully goose-stepped together to pass legislation requiring telecommunications service providers to store enormous amounts of personal data for a minimum of two years under the mandatory data retention scheme.
This has created a mass surveillance regime that will target all Australians at a time when other countries have abandoned this approach, and Australians will pay for this increased surveillance through taxes and additional phone and Internet charges. This is despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory data retention schemes do not work to reduce serious crime and are a substantial assault on privacy.
Pirate Party Deputy President Simon Frew said: “Years of undermining privacy and other civil liberties has reached a climax. Everyone will live under the shadow of mass surveillance. We can no longer take our privacy for granted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, a lawyer or a journalist — no one can assume that their communications are confidential. This is the most shamelessly authoritarian legislation Australia has seen for a long time.”
“The political duopoly is out of touch,2 and is bleeding votes from people of all political persuasions. This latest attack on privacy will have a price tag come 2016,” Mr Frew warned.
Reviews conducted in Germany and other countries show that mass surveillance schemes have virtually no effect on crime.3 The European Court of Justice overturned the European Union’s Data Retention Directive in 2014 on the basis that it grossly breached fundamental rights.4 Supporters of mandatory data retention have offered no evidence to suggest that mass surveillance will be successful in Australia.
The next few years will see grassroots resistance against state intrusion into civil society and private life. If overseas experience is any guide, citizens will prove more than capable of doing what Parliament should have done on their behalf — protecting their rights.
The Pirate Party will soon be releasing a comprehensive guide to defending your privacy in this new age of surveillance.
“The Pirate Party will be at the forefront of this fight for years to come,” pledged Mr Frew. “That is our promise”.

Alabama Supreme Court orders judges to stop issuing same-sex marriage licences

The Supreme Court of Alabama yesterday ordered all judges to halt in issuing same-sex marriage licenses in the state. The ruling goes against an earlier order by the United States Supreme Court, allowing judges to issue same-sex couples a marriage license.

The ruling said “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama[…] judges have a[…] duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

David Kennedy, a lawyer who represented an Alabama couple who fought an earlier court ruling, said “I don’t really think that they can do that. I’m not surprised, but I’m somewhat appalled. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the stay (on the order striking down the gay marriage ban) would expire on Feb. 9. On Feb. 9, same-sex marriage effectively became legal in Alabama”. He added “Whenever state law conflicts with federal law, federal law wins”.

The issue of same-sex marriage has been contested over recent months. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had told judges not to issue licenses. The national Supreme Court intervened in January, deeming Moore’s decision unconstitutional. Moore was not among the judges behind the latest decision. Of the 67 state counties, only a third of them began to issue same-sex marriage licences.

The status of the licenses that have already been issued in Alabama hasn’t been made clear. The Alabama Supreme Court said that the pre-issued licenses were “purported“. On this issue, Kennedy said “These people are married. There’s nothing the Alabama Supreme Court can do to overturn that.”

Originally published at Wikinews. This article is released under the Creative Commons Attribution license.