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”.