Digital Rights Watch releases inaugural annual report

After one full year of operations, Digital Rights Watch has released its inaugural annual report.

“The first twelve months of existence for Digital Rights Watch hasn’t come without challenges,” said Chair Tim Singleton Norton.

“We have a federal government who continue to implement a national warrantless mass surveillance program, the huge privacy failure of the national Census and countless ongoing issues around the digital rights of Australian citizens.”

“We have nonetheless made huge ground in establishing both the need and effectiveness of a new digital rights advocacy organisation.”

“Digital Rights Watch’s mission is to ensure that Australian citizens are equipped, empowered and enabled to uphold their digital rights. We educate, campaign, lobby and advocate for a digital environment where individuals have the power to maintain their human rights,” said Mr Singleton Norton.

“In the past year, we’ve spoken to the media on countless privacy and digital issues, and written substantive submissions to several key inquiries – both domestically and internationally. We’ve engaged with Government, secured partnerships with likeminded organisations, spoken at conferences, held events and joined global campaigns and movements.”

“In terms of its governance, Digital Rights Watch is now a national charity, fully registered with the Australian Tax Office and the Australian Charities and Nonprofits Commission.”

“Although there is still a huge amount of ground to be made in terms of digital rights in Australia, we remain excited about what the future holds for our organisation,” he concluded.

The Digital Rights Watch 2016 Annual Report is available for viewing online or download.

Notes for editors:

  • Digital Rights Watch is a relatively new non-profit organisation, founded in February 2016.
  • In its first year of operations, Digital Rights Watch:
    • hosted or participated at events designed to educate the public about digital rights:
      • Privacy and the Law – plenary in partnership with Deakin University School of Criminology
      • GOMA Talks – discussion about gendered abuse online
      • Next Wave Festival – symposium on internet privacy
      • Digital Rights in the Development Sector – panel discussion at Australian Council for International Development Conference.
    • raised privacy and freedom of speech concerns about a range of issues, including:
      • tracking of consumers through digitised checkouts in supermarkets
      • fair-use in copyright law as brought up by the Productivity Commission inquiry
      • the offshoring of Australian citizen’s personal data
      • proposed changes to the Privacy Act
      • the impact of the Federal Court decision in relation to site-blocking legislation
    • produced substantive submissions to various inquiries, including:
      • Productivity Commission – public inquiry into intellectual property
      • UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression – study on freedom of expression in the
        telecommunications and Internet access sector
      • UN Human Rights Council – United Kingdom Universal Periodic Review
      • Senate Economics References Committee – inquiry into the 2016 Census.
  • In August, Digital Rights Watch coordinated a public campaign around privacy concerns in 2016 Census, which resulted in a Senate Inquiry into the matter.
  • Digital Rights Watch is a member of the global Keep It On campaign, which targets governments who undertake shut-downs of telecommunication services.