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 …

Sweeping metadata laws must be scaled back

Amidst reports last week of the extraordinarily high rate at which the Australian Federal Police accessed the communications history of journalists, the Human Right Law Centre, Digital Rights Watch and Access Now have called on the Morrison Government to urgently reform metadata laws. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is conducting a review of controversial metadata retention laws …

Lizzie O’Shea declared “Hero” for mobilizing the Australian public against the government’s anti-encryption legislation

Today, Access Now announces its selection of Lizzie O’Shea, an Australian human rights lawyer, broadcaster, and writer, as a recipient of this year’s Human Rights Heroes Award. O’Shea is recognized for leading work to highlight, analyze, and protest expansive surveillance laws in Australia. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will present the award to O’Shea, as well as …

Statement on AFP raid of journalist’s home

“It’s incredibly worrying to see AFP officers carry out a raid on the home of a political journalist working to reveal an important public interest issue – a potential massive expansion of domestic capacity in Australian spy agencies. We fear that the powers given to the AFP to seize and search Annika Smethurst’s digital footprint represent a considerable risk to …

Digital Skills investment undermined by major parties’ digital rights legislation

Pic: Christiaan Colen

Political announcements around funding for digital skills and innovation will be wasted unless encryption legislation passed last year is repealed, according to human rights experts. “Of course we welcome announcements to fund digital skills, artificial intelligence, technology and research and development, such as those proposed most recently by the Labor party, along with telecommunications investments by the Coalition,” said Digital …

Human rights online highlighted as a key policy area for the 2019 Federal Election

Digital rights experts are urging Australians to consider how political parties are protecting their rights online when they head to the ballot box. A ranking of party positions on key issues by online privacy group Digital Rights Watch released today reveals that both the major parties have supported legislation that severely compromises human rights and online privacy. “With the internet …

Statement on arrest of Julian Assange in London

“We do not support arbitrary deprivation of liberty without proper due legal process. Mr Assange continued to seek political asylum in the Ecaudorian embassy in London, as is his right to do so, and the decision to revoke these protections is a worrying development,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton. “If Mr Assange is extradited to the United …

Changes to Australia’s criminal code will create a new class of internet censorship

Image: CC Licensed Flickr user ijclark

The Australian Government have announced the introduction of a new Bill aimed at imposing criminal liability on executives of social media platforms if they fail to remove “abhorrent violent content.” The hastily drafted legislation could have serious unintended consequences for human rights in Australia. The rushed and secretive approach, the lack of proper open, democratic debate, and the placement of …

Penalties for extremist social media content needs further thought

Digital Rights Watch have today warned that proposed laws that would make it a criminal offence for social media companies to leave videos filmed by terrorists on their sites require more consultation to ensure they work effectively.   The Government announced the proposed new laws in the wake of the Christchurch attacks, where livestream videos of the attack were broadcast …

International Civil Liberties and Technology Coalition Urges Australian Parliament To Amend Its Dangerous Encryption Law

Today, an international civil liberties and technology coalition urged the Australian Parliament to amend its new encryption law to minimize the threats that the law poses to cybersecurity, privacy, and freedom of expression. The international coalition of 36 civil society organizations, technology companies and trade associations filed comments with the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), which …

Senate changes to encryption legislation are a step in the right direction

Pic: Christiaan Colen

Whilst amendments to the Assistance and Access Bill 2018 which passed the Senate today are an important step towards addressing serious concerns, the entire legislation is flawed and should be repealed, said Digital Rights Watch. “We welcome the passage of amendments put forward by Labor that address the creation of systemic weaknesses in our encrypted systems – a fundamentally dangerous …

Victorian pushback on surveillance of students welcomed by privacy experts

Digital Rights Watch has today commended the Victorian Government for pushing back on a Federal Government proposal to operate facial recognition programs within state schools. “We’re very pleased to see Victorian Education Minister James Merlino stand up to this highly invasive and problematic proposal,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton. The software was due to roll out to …

Australian Parliament ignores overwhelming evidence against Encryption Bill

Digital Rights Watch have slammed both the Government and the Labor Opposition for passing the Assistance and Access Bill through the Lower House of Parliament today. “The fundamental fact remains that the powers being handed out to law enforcement are ill-informed, badly drafted and a gross overreach,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton. “This Bill is still deeply …

Better oversight and limits to power are an important first step, but Encryption Bill is still deeply flawed

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Digital Rights Watch have cautiously welcomed proposed changes to the Assistance and Access Bill 2018 following reports that a compromise position has been achieved between the Labor Opposition and the Government. “This is an important step forward for the democratic process, with some extremely dangerous elements of the Bill addressed through this compromise. But the fundamental fact remains that the …

Digital Rights experts welcome Labor standing up to protect encryption

Digital Rights Watch has welcomed reports that the Federal Labor Opposition intends to oppose the passage of the Assistance and Access Bill 2018 in its current form before Christmas. Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus today wrote to the Government announcing his intention to break with a long held tradition of bipartisan commitment through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and …

Charities welcome new electoral laws

The Hands Off Our Charities alliance has released the following statement on the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill: Hands Off Our Charities welcomes the passing of this version of the Bill through the House of Representatives today and is pleased to see a much more sensible Bill get bipartisan support.  The willingness of all parties to work with us …