The Government Covid-19 Contact Tracing Smartphone App

A crowd using smartphones

last updated on May 10th prior to legislation being tabled previously updated on April 26th after the Government launched the app, and April 29th after comments from Stephen Conroy To expedite Covid-19 contact tracing in Australia, the Commonwealth Government has announced a new smartphone application will be in Google and Apple stores within a fortnight. This explainer on the privacy …

Blog: The News Media Bargaining Code is not fit for any purpose

There’s no doubt in our minds that we want digital platforms to change–to treat our privacy as a priority, to ensure our data is protected and not used against our interests, to give us transparency and be accountable for invisible algorithms that we are subject to. We also want the government to act, to set regulations in place to guide …

Submission: The proposed News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code

Along with many civil society organisations, Digital Rights Watch are concerned about the freedom of Australian press. The diversity and sustainability of an open and free press are essential pillars of our democracy, and we observe with great concern increasing powers of law enforcement which threaten that integrity. Digital Rights Watch has provided a submission to the ACCC concerning the …

Newsletter: August roundup

Hi David, There’s never a dull moment in the fight for digital rights! Here’s your (inaugural) monthly Digital Rights Watch update, with an overview of recent digital rights issues to make sure you’re the best informed for that fancy-dress dinner party (or zoom?) discussion, as well as some updates on what our team has been busy doing. ACCC vs Google …

Submission: The UN Human Rights Council from Access Now and Digital Rights Watch

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR process is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. Access Now and Digital Rights Watch contributed a submission to Australia’s …

Blog: Police drones and coronavirus surveillance

People should be able to use public spaces without being subjected to oppressive surveillance wherever they go. Yet, according to various media reports, police in Victoria are beginning to roll out the use of drones to monitor and enforce coronavirus restrictions. The use of drones for enforcement and surveillance brings up huge privacy and justice concerns. Many of the things …

Submission to the PJCIS on the proposed ASIO Amendment Bill 2020

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) is conducting a review of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020. The Department of Home Affairs’ proposed Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 amends the Australian Intelligence Organisation Act 1979. Digital Rights Watch provided a submission to the inquiry which is available here.

Australia needs to face up to the dangers of facial recognition technology

In the 20 years of the “war on terror” Australia has led from the front in expanding powers for law enforcement and ramping up surveillance at the expense of public rights and freedoms. Among the seemingly endless barrage of national security legislation and surveillance that creeps into every aspect of our personal lives, more and more of our public spaces have been …

Facing up to facial recognition

Facial recognition technology has been deployed across Australia and around the world. It’s in the streets, at major sporting events and at the 7/11. Most alarmingly, it’s increasingly being used by law enforcement and government at all levels – all without any of us getting a say. Facial recognition that enables mass surveillance is a threat to human rights and …

The Australian government’s concern about TikTok is not just about data ethics – it’s about politics

There are good reasons to be concerned about TikTok, but it should be part of a larger conversation around privacy and surveillance capitalism. While commenting on calls to ban TikTok this week, Scott Morrison said it’s “right for people to have an increased awareness of where these platforms originate and the risks they present”. In the same breath, the Australian prime minister …

A farewell from the founding Chair

Four years ago, a group of academics, technology experts and activists came together in the meeting rooms of Thoughtworks Australia with a shared vision: to unite in their advocacy against the recently passed mandatory metadata retention laws. Much was discussed about the state of human rights in online spaces and the ramping up of attacks from conservative governments.  That meeting …

Ban Mass Surveillance Facial Recognition

Facial recognition technology has been deployed across Australia. Local governments, corporations large and small, federal and state government departments and law enforcement agencies have rolled out these mass surveillance systems, all without you getting a say or even noticing. Numerous investigations have shown that the technology is dangerously inaccurate and is frequently misused by the many agencies that access it. …

The Campsite Rule: Protecting our Rights in a Crisis

When you visit a campsite, we all know the right thing to do is to leave it better than we found it.  The same rule should apply to our rights in a crisis. During times like these, we often see governments rush through additional powers for themselves, or law enforcement and intelligence. Many of them put human rights at risk, …

Navigating the COVIDSafe app rhetoric

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen the government pull out all the stops in an attempt to convince the Australian public to download the COVIDSafe App. There are plenty of issues with the app itself, including its technical flaws, and valid concerns around data privacy, security and the normalisation of surveillance. But the other fascinating aspect of COVIDSafe has been …

ASIO bill highlights why the government has a problem with public trust

The government sure has asked for a lot of trust from the public recently. Australians have been asked to disregard a long history of overreach, scope creep, data breaches and abuses of power, in favour of a request to take the government on their word about the COVIDSafe App because ‘this time it’s different – we promise!’  And now, on …

Coronavirus and the police state

Some of the laws that have been enacted in recent weeks in response to the coronavirus are unprecedented. It’s now unlawful to do all sorts of everyday things, like venture out in public unless for a specific, government-mandated purpose, in ways that would be astonishing to our past selves just a month ago. This has affected both our individual lives, …

Onus on Government to Earn Public Trust On Tracing App

Phone location

JOINT MEDIA RELEASEDIGITAL RIGHTS WATCHHUMAN RIGHTS LAW CENTRECENTRE FOR RESPONSIBLE TECHNOLOGY An alliance of digital rights groups urged the Morrison Government to fill in obvious gaps in the development of the tracing technology to give it its best chance of winning public trust. Today, the Morrison Government released the COVID-Safe tracing app asking all Australians to download the technology which …

Covid App Data Hosted Overseas is Vulnerable to US Law

Server Farm

Choosing Amazon Web Services to host the covid-19 contact tracing app data risks exposing private information about Australians to US law enforcement, Digital Rights Watch Chair Lizzie O’Shea. “Storing data with an AWS service exposes it to United States legislation which enables American law-enforcement agencies to access data stored on a US company’s servers. This could potentially bypass even the …

Another empty assurance from government can’t restore trust in Covid App

PM Scott Morrison

Attorney-General Christian Porter’s statement that the police will not have access to metadata from the government’s Covid19 contact tracing app is wholly inadequate, Digital Rights Watch chair Lizzie O’Shea said today. “There is huge public distrust in this proposal for good reason. We’ve had years of governments giving themselves extraordinary invasive surveillance powers, disregarding the meagre safeguards those powers came …

Guarantee Limits and Protections on Covid App or it will Fail

Phone location

After years of attacking personal privacy, it is little wonder that the announcement from the Federal Government of a location tracking app has been met with scepticism, Digital Rights Watch chair Lizzie O’Shea said today. “Without robust transparency processes around what data is collected and how it will be used, and unimpeachable guarantees that the data will be used for …