US surveillance scandal is a warning to Australia

freedomwatchONLINE-EMAILbannerLast week we discovered that US security and intelligence agencies are collecting data on Americans. It’s one of the biggest privacy scandals we’ve ever seen. American lawyer and radio show host Mark Levin said it reveals “elements of a police state“. There has also been criticism of similar snooping programs in the UK.

The scandal demonstrates exactly why the IPA has been so loud in criticising the Gillard government’s plans to force internet service providers to collect and store internet records on 22 million Australians. I put out a media release this morning telling the government to abandon its draconian proposal:

Not everyone agrees that we should be free from government surveillance. My colleague Chris Berg and I appeared before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security’s Inquiry into National Security Legislation on 5 September last year to tell the committee that the proposed mandatory data retention regime was “completely lacking in proportionality, undermines basic freedoms and is in fundamental conflict with a right to privacy”.

Labor MP Michael Danby responded by accusing us of having a “one-eyed view of extreme civil liberties” (whatever that means) and of “free market madness”. I don’t think criticising government plans to track the online habits of every Australian is either extreme or mad. After all, we’re just asking for proportionality and accountability.

You can make up your own mind. Here’s our written submission to the inquiry and here’s the full transcript from the hearing – including Danby’s bizarre attack.

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