Digital Rights Watch stands for Privacy, Democracy, Fairness & Freedom in a digital age.

We aim to create a world where technology is designed in ways that serve the interests of privacy, in which laws empower people rather than government or corporations, and the body politic values the concept of privacy.

In order to uphold Australians’ right to privacy online, Digital Rights Watch:

  • Advocates for Australia’s privacy principles to protect citizens from mass surveillance, and campaigns for a cessation of mass surveillance operations.
  • Operates a watchdog for the rollout of the mandatory data retention scheme and lobbies for enhanced judicial oversight.
  • Campaigns for a halt to the national facial biometric data scheme.
  • Creates public education resources to empower individuals, organisations and movements to actively resist attempts to weaken encryption and privacy-enhancing software.

The human right to privacy is enshrined the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Digital privacy is an integral part of the human right to privacy. Privacy involves anonymity (the right to communicate without attribution), and secrecy (the right to communicate with others without being listened to or watched by another). Both these ideas impact our ability to live free and full lives in the digital world. The extent to which they are respected in our lives online also has an impact on our democracy more generally.

A democratic society will always involve some kind of negotiation between the interests of individual privacy and the need to protect people’s safety. Digital Rights Watch strives to participate in public debates about the nature of privacy using a human rights lens. That is, our starting point is that government incursions on digital privacy need to be transparently justified and limited to only what is manifestly necessary. People have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, and policy should extend the benefit of the doubt to the public, rather than adopt a default position that the presumption of innocence does not apply. Corporations also need to be honest about how they collect, store and use personal information, and avoid putting themselves in positions where they abuse customer trust by breaching personal privacy.

A free and open internet is the cornerstone of a modern approach to human rights.