August 6, 2014
The increased security fears about the threat posed by 150 Australians suspected of fighting in Syria and Iraq, if they should they return home has given rise to proposed anti-terrorism legislation. This security threat does not justify the need for the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) to access 2 years of personal data (metadata) about Australians; and to share “bulk” amounts of Australian citizens’ metadata with its 5 Eyes intelligence partners overseas.
Our civil rights are in danger of being eroded in the name of national security. This surveillance, which involves mandatory collecting information in bulk about ordinary citizens' day-to-day activities ---intimate, highly private, social, medical, business, religious etc – without warrant, dismisses the presumption of innocence and accompanying procedures of legal and parliamentary oversight that are supposed to be the hallmarks of democratic societies. We have government stonewalling (both Labor and Liberal) on a more extended regime of checks and balances.
The new slogan is "Team Australia" versus the Muslim community that is supportive of global Islamist jihad fighting the West and homegrown terrorism. The appeal is to fear --the war on terrorism---to justify forcing telecommunications companies to retain customer data for access by government agencies for law enforcement investigations.
The ALP is not going to stop these steps towards a surveillance state that is covered in a veil of counter-terrorism, and arriving in a procession of Australian flags and nationalism. The ALP, under the Gillard Government, were moving towards requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to retain customer data for up to two years but shelved them.