100+ human rights groups demand global governments not use coronavirus pandemic as cover for expanding digital surveillance

A global coalition of 100 human rights and civil liberties organisations have today united to tell world governments not to use the coronavirus pandemic as a cover to usher in digital surveillance. In a joint statement, the signing organisations urge governments to show leadership in tackling the pandemic in a way that ensures any use of digital technologies to track …

Personal privacy must be protected during the coronavirus epidemic

The government must not expand their use of dangerous untested technology during this emergency, digital rights experts have warned today. “We’re already seeing reports from the US and elsewhere that governments are deploying untested and intrusive surveillance technology on their population. We are deeply concerned that government agencies in Australia will try to do the same here under cover of …

Bipartisan contempt for human rights continues to drag Australia into a police state

Digital rights experts have today revealed how continued bipartisan passage of national security legislation through federal parliament has caused a generation-long weakening of Australians’ fundamental human rights. “It’s appalling to see the breadth of legislation that has been passed over the past 20 years, all of which has had a devastating impact on the human rights of everyday Australians,” said …

Clearview AI Data Breach – Another reason for moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies

The Clearview AI data breach reveals that Australian law enforcement agencies are using the company’s facial recognition tools for identification purposes without any oversight or privacy protections, digital rights experts have warned today.  “We should be deeply concerned that our police forces are using Clearview AI’s facial recognition technologies here in Australia without any accountability or oversight,” said Digital Rights …

Breach of trust shows metadata retention scheme must be repealed

Image: Brian Klug

Digital security advocates have expressed outrage at revelations that Australian law enforcement agencies have been potentially abusing mandatory metadata retention laws and receiving data explicitly excluded from the legislation. “It is incredibly worrying to hear that government agencies have been receiving extensive details of Australians’ web history with no oversight or accountability, potentially undermining the already minor protections that were …

Online disinformation risks public confusion about the cause of Australia’s bushfires

Digital rights experts have expressed deep concern at emerging evidence that suggests there is an intentional disinformation campaign creating confusion around the cause of Australia’s tragic bushfires. “It is disappointing that during one of Australia’s most tragic disasters, social media platforms are being used to create confusion about the causes of the fires,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton …

Open Letter to Law Enforcement in the U.S., UK, and Australia: Weak Encryption Puts Billions of Internet Users at Risk

Pic: iStock.com/fatido

Today, Digital Rights Watch joined 101 other signatories in releasing an open letter to law enforcement officials in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia expressing grave concerns with the countries’ recent statements about encryption. These officials penned a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on October 4, 2019 asking Facebook to delay the implementation of end-to-end encryption across its messaging …

Major amendments to encryption laws are a step in the right direction

A coalition of human rights organisations, telecommunication industry and technology companies have today commented on the proposed amendments to the TOLA (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, tabled today in the Senate by Senator Kristina Kenneally. “It’s welcome to see the introduction today of Labor’s proposed amendments to these deeply flawed laws – a long-overdue edit to this fundamentally bad legislation,” …

Police drones on public beaches are a gross privacy violation

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Privacy experts have hit out at reports that Victorian Police plan to operate camera surveillance drones on public beaches over the upcoming holiday period. “This is a gross violation of privacy for anyone visiting a Victorian beach over the summer break,” said Digital Rights Watch chair Tim Singleton Norton. The 2017 Guidelines to Surveillance and Privacy in the Victorian Public …

Local governments need to act to protect the privacy of their citizens

Australian Cities For Digital Rights

Digital Rights Watch has launched a new campaign targeting Australian local governments over their use of surveillance technology, data collection and privacy invasion. “We are seeing a real-world effect of technology creep on our privacy rights in Australian cities through the rapid expansion of surveillance technology in public spaces – often those directly managed by local government authorities,” said Tom …

Open Letter: Facebook’s End-to-End Encryption Plans

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, OPEN LETTER: FACEBOOK’S END-TO-END SECURITY PLANS The organizations below write today to encourage you, in no uncertain terms, to continue increasing the end-to-end security across Facebook’s messaging services. We have seen requests from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australian governments asking you to suspend these plans “until [Facebook] can guarantee the added privacy does not reduce public safety”. …

Australian digital rights organisations defend encryption

Image: CC Licensed Flickr user ijclark

Digital Rights Watch and Access Now have expressed deep concerns about attempts by members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to convince Facebook to abandon its plan to introduce end-to-end encryption in its messaging services.  “End-to-end encryption is like a lock on a door. It is a basic requirement for security in any form of online communication in the digital …

Attorney General having discretion over prosecutions will do virtually nothing for press freedom

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Digital Rights Watch has criticised a recent move by the Australian Government to allow Ministerial decisions over the prosecution of journalists. “Australia already lags behind when it comes to press freedom. We are the only democracy on the planet that has not enshrined the right to a free press in our constitution or a charter of rights,” said Digital Rights …

Major privacy concerns around national facial recognition database

CC Licensed image from Flickr User Jay Phagan

Digital Rights Watch have welcomed a move by the Victorian Government to control federal agency access to driver’s license photographs uploaded to the national facial recognition database. “There is a severe lack of strong oversight mechanisms and general enforcement for human rights and civil liberties in this country, which results in the public being understandably wary about giving government more …

Global coalition warns against internet shutdowns in Hong Kong

After months of pro-democracy protests in the streets of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, leader of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) government, has finally withdrawn the proposed extradition law that sparked them. But as Bloomberg reports, that’s not likely to stop the protests. Lam has not relented on key demands of the protesters, and is refusing to investigate police violence. As …

Privacy advocates welcome ACCC report into loyalty reward schemes

Privacy advocate group Digital Rights Watch today welcomed a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on customer loyalty cards, which called into question the privacy protections provided to consumers under such schemes. “The data protection elements of consumer loyalty schemes has always been of great concern to us, and so it’s welcoming to see such a strong statement …

Internet shutdowns in West Papua are within Australia’s responsibility

Internet shutdowns in West Papua are within Australia’s responsibility

Following reports that internet access has been shut down in West Papua, Digital Rights Watch has called for urgent intervention from the Australian government. “There is a serious lack of quality information about the ongoing unrest in West Papua because the Indonesian authorities have blocked internet connectivity to the province,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton. “To witness …

Doctors, Lawyers, and Privacy Experts Denounce Sharing Patient Health Data for Secondary Use

Following the HealthEngine scandal in 2018, and the recent use of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data to assist recruitment into research on Bipolar disorder, a Twitter user on Friday 23 August shared a SMS message attempting to recruit him into a clinical trial.   This appears to have occurred through the use of a health data platform. Research by digital rights …

Australians are increasingly concerned about expansion of surveillance powers

Pic: iStock.com/fatido

New polling shows that Australians have a high level of concern over legislation that has made it easier for the Government and law enforcement agencies to access their private personal digital information. The polling, commissioned by Digital Rights Watch and undertaken by Essential Research, has revealed:      76% of people expressed concern that telecommunication companies retain data on every Australian. …

Facial recognition expansion requires urgent review

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Following reports that individuals are being forced to use facial recognition software in order to access government solar rebates, Digital Rights Watch have called for an urgent review of the rapid expansion of the controversial software. Victorians are being required to use Service Victoria’s new facial recognition system as an alternative to the traditional 100-point paper-based identity check, to prove …