One of Australia’s most prominent conservative and free market-focused think tanks has published a strongly worded critique damning the Federal Government’s planned telecommunications surveillance and data retention reform package as “excessive” and “systematically” breaching Australians’ right to privacy.
The Institute of Public Affairs is an independent, non-profit organisation which describes itself as supporting the traditional ideals of liberalism, being the free flow of ideas, free markets and capital flows, small government, representative democracy and so on. It is usually referred to by commentators as being associated with the conservative side of politics in Australia, but also often espouses more traditional liberal ideals which neither major side of Australian politics openly supports.
The Federal Attorney-General’s Department is currently promulgating a package of reforms which would see a number of wide-ranging changes made to make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor what Australians are doing on the Internet. For example, one new power is a data retention protocol which would require ISPs to retain data on their customers’ Internet and telephone activities for up to two years, and changes which would empower agencies to source data on users’ activities on social networking sites.
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