Australian Citizens’ Online Privacy Revoked by Government
The Australian government has slowly been pushing towards a surveillance state for years now. However, they recently passed a surveillance bill that makes this goal a reality now. The new surveillance bill gives the police complete authority to hack devices, collect and/or delete data, control social media accounts, and so on. Surprisingly, the bill does not have the necessary safeguards to protect Australian citizens from abuse of these new powers.
This surveillance bill is the worst of its kind, referred to as the Surveillance Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (Identify and Disrupt). This bill gives the AFP (Australian Federal Police) and the ACIC (Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission) the following powers to deal with cybercrime:
- According to the Data Disruption Warrant, the police can disrupt data i.e. modify, add, copy or delete data.
- The police can collect data from networks or devices to those subject by the Network Activity Warrant.
- According to the Account Takeover Warrant, the police can take over social media accounts to gather information for an investigation.
What is terrifying about this bill is that it lacks any kind of judicial oversight. The AFP or ACIC could obtain any of the warrants mentioned above without a judge’s approval.
On the other side, companies that receive a warrant from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal must comply. Failing to comply can result in one to ten years in jail.
According to politicians, the new bill is a necessity to combat terrorism and child exploitation. But then again, the bill allows law enforcement agencies to investigate any offense, severe or otherwise.
While Senator Lidia Thorpe and several others have heavily criticized the bill, but there is little that can be done now to overturn this move, at least what is what it seems for now.
According to Senator Thorpe, the bill allows the AFP and ACIC to act as judge, jury, and executioner. She further stated that the bill does not clarify the purpose of these powers, and such a thing is uncalled for in countries like the US, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK.
With the bill being passed, it is safe to say that human rights in Australia have taken a nosedive. Australian citizens will have no privacy whatsoever. Surveillance is a threat to democracy and open societies, and a surveillance state will have devastating repercussions, and that is a fact! Unfortunately, now Australian citizens will need to fend for themselves and will need to resort to using reliable Australia VPNs to secure their online presence.