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Australian Government Censors Draft Snooping Laws 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
coolstoryhansel writes "Stating that release of the draft legislation is not in the public interest [PDF] because it would prejudice decision making processes already in train, the Attorney General's Department has denied the release of the draft laws that would see wide-scale dragnet surveillance implemented along with an expansion of law enforcement powers for the purposes of 'national security'. Serkowski, speaking for the Pirate Party who lodged the FOI request labelled the Department response as 'disgraceful and troubling' saying the decision is 'completely trashing any semblance or notion of transparency or participative democratic process of policy development.'"
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Australian Government Censors Draft Snooping Laws

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  • And when passed... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @05:41AM (#41617155) Journal
    Releasing the final bill as-passed by the legislature will probably not be "in the public interest" either.
    • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:00AM (#41617235)

      Labor & Liberal yet again **voting together** to preserve and extend a _privatised_ police state [youtube.com] in Australia, extend surveillance of Australian citizens without any oversight.

      for example:

      Flawed cybercrime Bill dodges national security inquiry
      20 Aug 2012 | Scott Ludlam
      Broadband, Communications & the Digital Economy

      The Australian Government is pursuing a draconian cybercrime law scheduled for debate in the Senate tonight despite warnings from its own MPs and before an inquiry into national security legislation has taken evidence or reported, the Greens said today.

      The Greens communications spokesperson, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said Labor's cybercrime legislation would open the door to Australians' private data being shared with agencies overseas.

      "This proposed law goes well beyond the already controversial European convention on which it is based, and no explanation has been provided as to why. The European Treaty doesn't require ongoing collection and retention of communications, but the Australian Bill does. It also leaves the door open for Australia to assist in prosecutions which could lead to the death penalty overseas. These flaws must be addressed before the Bill proceeds."

      Senator Ludlam said the Government had addressed only one of a range of problems identified by a unanimous Parliamentary committee on the legislation.

      "The Government ignored a series of recommendations from MPs on all sides of Parliament, and fixed one embarrassing drafting flaw that would have prevented accession to the European Convention and invalidated the whole point of the Bill.

      "The Attorney General's Department did the bare minimum they thought necessary to acknowledge the existence of the critical and unanimous committee report. The Government was urged by its own MPs to fix this legislation but chose to leave it as is. The national security legislation review - which will be looking at a highly controversial data retention proposal - has barely begun, yet the Government has now brought a key piece of enabling legislation forward.

      "We have recommended a number of improvements to the bill including fixing these flaws and clarifying the Ombudsman's powers to inspect and audit compliance with the preservation regime."

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:37AM (#41617385)
      You're still not reducing it down as far as it can go.

      "This bill is not in the public interest, so we're not allowing the public to see it."
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I bet foreign powers get to see this bill, even if the public never does! Can I remind you also of Clean IT. The EU similar spying, monitoring, censorship law. Which follows the same pattern of secrecy:

        http://kitmantv.blogspot.com/2012/09/its-coming-leaked-document-on-eu.html

        To sum up:
        1. It calls for widespread monitoring and censorship of the internet, and end to privacy and anonymity.
        2. It is largely agreed, with only some sections are marked for discussions.
        3. The discussion document is secret, those sec

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @10:38AM (#41619207) Journal

          Has Australia have no brave MPs who could stand up, invoke Parliamentary privilege, and make people aware of the more noxious aspects of the legislation?

          I mean, how, in the post-Glorious Revolution age of Parliamentary democracy can a government submit a secret law to a Parliament in any of the Commonwealth Realms and have it passed? Something like this would have been seen even in Queen Anne's time as a violation of Parliament's authority and dignity.

      • by EnempE (709151)
        So Negative !

        Phrase it like: "This bill is not of interest to the public, so we are allowing them to not see it"
    • by Xacid (560407)

      This is insane. I can't even comprehend how a government can even make a claim like this.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        This is insane. I can't even comprehend how a government can even make a claim like this.

        Apparently, the politicians in Oz are learning by US example.

        "We have to pass the bill...to find out what's in the bill."

        "When Congress refuses to act, Joe and I will act."

        I think it's about time we cleaned out the whole lot. They seem to think they're the ones in charge or something. Time to introduce some politicians to this thing called "humility", as they obviously are unacquainted with the concept.

        Strat

    • by J'raxis (248192)

      Maybe they should just follow the lead of the U.S. legislature: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it [youtube.com]."

  • then we could download the draft off some obscure chinese website by now. Hmpf.

    j/k

    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:19AM (#41617309)
      Or some civic minded government worker could leak the documents to Wikileaks. That's what it's there for.
  • Sadly, how is any of this a surprise?

    What is even worse is that most people would say it is morally wrong to withhold this information - but the voice of the average person is ignored these days...

    • Re:This is new? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by reboot246 (623534) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:18AM (#41617303) Homepage
      Is the voice of the average person being ignored, or is the average person just not speaking out? I think it's the latter. The average person is not getting involved. As long as their bellies are full and they're being entertained, they don't care. Bread and circuses all over again.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      It's not a surprise, and it is very, very sad.

      God damn, Australia, for a nation founded by convicts, you certainly do seem to have a hard on for creating more of them.

    • by 0racle (667029)
      Honestly, no, I believe the average person would be in favor of hiding this as the reason given was 'national security.'

      'National Security,' 'For the Children,' and whatnot are magic words that make the average person go along with anything the government says.
  • Aussies, now you know why you were disarmed.

    • by Type44Q (1233630)
      Well, it's one of the reasons, at any rate, but don't worry; there'll be more to follow shortly...
    • by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:29AM (#41617347)
      Err, what are you saying would be different about the situation supposing that every person in Australia did have a gun?
      • by Nyder (754090)

        Err, what are you saying would be different about the situation supposing that every person in Australia did have a gun?

        The difference is, when the people go to the streets to protest, the government is afraid because people may have guns, meaning, if pushed, they can use force against the government. But if you take the guns away from the people, their protesting doesn't bother you as much, since you have all the force to keep the power.

        • Can you point to any protest in recent history of any western democracy where having guns made any such difference? Or even any example at all (eg, in a non-democracy, or not recent) ?
        • The difference is, when the people go to the streets to protest, the government is afraid because people may have guns, meaning, if pushed, they can use force against the government.

          Totally 100%. Look at Afghanistan and places like that where everyone has a gun and they totally had success resisting professional armed services with their own guns [youtube.com]. No asymmetry between people with Apache's and mini-guns and people with normal civilian assault rifles.

          This stuff has to be stopped long before they get the chance to call you a terrorist. Small arms just act as a security blanket keeping you quiet. Nukes and heavy weapons are denied from "the people" everywhere. For fairly good reason

        • The same effect can be achieved when you get enough warm bodies that suppressing the protest would only trigger widespread chaos. Guns are overrated unless they have the power to take out tanks and fighter bombers. Proof is Libya. The rebels had to be bailed out by NATA airpower. If a totalitarian government really wants to crush you, you need more than the right to bear arms. You need tanks, jets, and maybe even tactical nukes.
          • by gottabeme (590848)

            Did you forget about guerilla warfare? e.g. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. In all three the US had the machines of war, but the guerillas slowly but steadily made the uniformed forces' lives miserable until they wanted to withdraw. The latter two, of course, aren't over yet, but the example still stands.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Err you do realise we're a western civilisation right? Not some way back Arab nation, not some communist country ruled under tyranny, but a western civilisation. The people can rise with nothing more than rocks and baseball bats against a government and effectively topple it. It would be the end for the country and the end for the government if someone gave an order to gun down our own citizens.

          As for guns, we were disarmed voluntarily. Sure the political party of the day disarmed us, but the opposing party

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Tastecicles (1153671)

        The last time the Citizenry were armed, and the country's leader (albeit in the following example, not an elected one) tried to abrogate the rights of the Citizen granted by God and reinforced in Law from the Code of Alfred onward... he was decapitated. Google Charles I and the Second English Civil War (1648-9).

        Now, we're seeing - in every so-called "democracy" - the rights of the Citizen whittled away in the name of national security, which Government then arms the private security force known universally

        • by gottabeme (590848)

          What can we do?

          • Well, you could try starting a letter writing campaign to the Australian Governor General. At the end of the day, the GG has to give assent to any bill, and has the power to effectively veto or delay a bill.

            • by gottabeme (590848)

              I guess I misunderstood you, or vice versa. I'm not Australian. I was thinking more generally.

        • And of course, the Citizenry soon found out that the Roundheads were even more egregious in their style of government than Charles I, and ultimately rejected Cromwell's heir in favour of Charles I's heir.

          The Glorious Revolution, that's where real Parliamentary democracy had its birth. While it took another century or so before the forms of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy were fully developed, it was at that point that Parliament gained, in law as well as in fact, supremacy.

      • by Type44Q (1233630) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @07:42AM (#41617729)

        Thank you for asking; the answer to that question is undoubtedly of the utmost importance. However, I firmly believe that equipping you to answer it for yourself (assuming you're not a troll) makes much more sense.

        As such, here are more than a few relevant quotes that might broaden your perspective enough for you to do so:

        "A free people ought to be armed."
        ~George Washington

        "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..."
        ~Richard Henry Lee

        "The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest possible limits... and [when] the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
        ~St. George Tucker

        "[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
        ~James Madison

        "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth."
        ~George Washington

        "A woman who demands further gun control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders."
        ~Larry Elder

        "One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them."
        ~Thomas Jefferson

        "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."
        ~Alexander Hamilton

        "By calling attention to 'a well regulated militia,' 'the security of the nation,' and the right of each citizen 'to keep and bear arms,' our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy... The Second Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important."
        ~John F. Kennedy

        "Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other."
        ~John Locke

        "No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion."
        ~James Burgh

        "The congress of the United States possesses no power to regulate, or interfere with the domestic concerns, or police of any state: it belongs not to them to establish any rules respecting the rights of property; nor will the constitution permit any prohibition of arms to the people."
        ~Saint George Tucker

        "The right of the people to keep and bearâ¦arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country..."
        ~James Madison

        "And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants"
        ~Thomas Jefferson

        "The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone w

        • by Type44Q (1233630)
          Save your modpoints, UK Gov't shills on GMT; it may still be early here in the States but a lot of us American *nix-guys tend to be independent-minded free-thinkers with modpoints to spare. :)
          • by Type44Q (1233630)

            ...it may still be early here in the States but...

            Sorry; grammatical fuck-up there. That should have read "It is still early here in the States and..." :)

        • Thank you, that was amazing! I have copied it and will add to my copy whenever I come across relevant quotes.

          I think the chief problem is that fear rules over reason in the minds of so many. And I don't know how to solve that, other than a worldview focused on eternity, not on this world. And people must make that decision on their own.

          "Eternal vigilence..."

          • by Type44Q (1233630)

            ...other than a worldview focused on eternity, not on this world...

            Not to throw a wrench into the gears of what some might prefer remain a highly-polarized debate... but I can't help disagreeing with you there: weapons are all about this world. The notion that "Gawd wants us to have 'em!" - whether we swallow it hook, line and sinker like a bunch of brainwashed fundamentalists or we completely scoff at it like properly-indoctrinated liberals - is just more framing-of-the-debate courtesy of TPTB.

            But no, there's absolutely nothing divine or spiritually-healthy about weapons

            • by gottabeme (590848)

              ...other than a worldview focused on eternity, not on this world...

              Not to throw a wrench into the gears of what some might prefer remain a highly-polarized debate... but I can't help disagreeing with you there: weapons are all about this world. The notion that "Gawd wants us to have 'em!" - whether we swallow it hook, line and sinker like a bunch of brainwashed fundamentalists or we completely scoff at it like properly-indoctrinated liberals - is just more framing-of-the-debate courtesy of TPTB.

              You seem to have misunderstood me. My point is not that God wants us to have guns. My point is that the reason people oppose gun ownership is that they are afraid. But having an eternity-focused worldview means that one need not fear dying. When one realizes that one's most valuable possession--one's soul--cannot be taken away, one is free to act out of courage rather than fear. One need not fear guns, or ultimately any harm, because the worst that an evil person can do is kill you.

              But no, there's absolutely nothing divine or spiritually-healthy about weapons of death and destruction; you can bet your ass that neither Christ nor Buddha would've wanted to carry around a Taurus Judge or a Saiga 12...

              This is a specious a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        Just ignore him These American gun nuts can't understand the difference between having a gun in their pocket and just being glad to see you.

        In other words, it makes him feel more manly. It does nothing to guarantee democracy, and actually does much to retard it (in both senses of the word). Having a heavily armed population just gives the government a better excuse to surveil you. None of these 2nd Amendment wackos has ever done anything to advance democracy and human rights.

        • by gottabeme (590848)

          So you think that if the population isn't armed, the government won't want to surveil it or encroach upon its liberty?

          Oh, yes, you're so right: none of the people in favor of the Second Amendment ever did anything to advance democracy or human rights:

          "The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it."
          ~Thomas Jefferson

          "A free people ought to be armed."
          ~George Washington

          "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth."
          ~George Washington

          "A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
          ~George Washington

          "None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important."
          ~Thomas Jefferson

          "[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
          ~James Madison

          Nevermind that those men are the ones who created the world's foremost democracy by the blood of many men, the nation which has thus far done the most to advance the cause of liberty and set the strongest example (no it's not perfect; that's not the point).

          It's

          • by 1u3hr (530656)

            So you think that if the population isn't armed, the government won't want to surveil it or encroach upon its liberty?

            Of course it will -- it does. And in America, with a gun on every nightstand and glovebox, it does that too. The government isn't afraid of your guns.

            • by gottabeme (590848)

              The government isn't afraid of your guns.

              That is a loaded statement and a useless generalization.

              There are plenty of people in government who are afraid of citizens having guns. They would be happy if gun ownership were completely illegal.

              There are also people in government who fully support the Second Amendment. They want good citizens to be armed, because they recognize that 1) the government is of, by, and for the people; 2) most people are decent and would never intentionally harm another person; 3) the government/police cannot ultimately pr

              • by 1u3hr (530656)

                , 4) liberty and personal responsibility are more important than fear.

                Owning a gun is an admission that you live in fear, and want to make others fear you even more.

                • by causality (777677)

                  , 4) liberty and personal responsibility are more important than fear.

                  Owning a gun is an admission that you live in fear, and want to make others fear you even more.

                  It's an admission that unfortunately, some people cannot be reasoned with.

                  Most people who actually own guns hope that they never have to use them. It's a bit like car insurance. You have it, but not because you're planning to crash your car.

                • by causality (777677)

                  , 4) liberty and personal responsibility are more important than fear.

                  Owning a gun is an admission that you live in fear, and want to make others fear you even more.

                  I'll add that the only reason _you_ don't live in fear is because there are men with guns who are charged with your safety. They are the police in many places and the military in places where police don't usually carry guns. You hire them with your tax dollars to present deadly force on your behalf. Owning a gun simply means sharing this responsibility and not completely delegating it to someone else whom you've never met.

                  I long for a world where force or threat of force is no longer necessary to main

        • Can you be any less condescending? I am a Second Amendment supporter. I don't believe that it is truly a meaningful "safeguard against tyranny" today, but I consider it important for other reasons (like right to defend oneself). I support other organizations who defend our freedoms and human rights, like ACLU. But you just went out of your way to offend me, because I do have a gun in my pocket? Are you living in perpetual fear of being in a proximity of a lethal weapon, or something?

          • by causality (777677)

            Can you be any less condescending? I am a Second Amendment supporter. I don't believe that it is truly a meaningful "safeguard against tyranny" today, but I consider it important for other reasons (like right to defend oneself). I support other organizations who defend our freedoms and human rights, like ACLU. But you just went out of your way to offend me, because I do have a gun in my pocket? Are you living in perpetual fear of being in a proximity of a lethal weapon, or something?

            I live in a state where the law allows you to openly carry, or you can obtain a permit to conceal-carry.

            Sometimes in public places I see people openly carrying. I suppose I also see people who conceal-carry but by the nature of that I don't know which they are.

            When I am at a store and I see a fellow citizen openly carrying a gun, it makes me feel safer. I am happy to see it. I know that any would-be violent criminal can also see it and that it gives them a reason to think twice about trying somethi

  • At what point does a government forget that it works for the people of its nation?
  • by MnemonicMan (2596371) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:09AM (#41617273)
    "As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."
  • by feepcreature (623518) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:10AM (#41617277) Homepage

    It sounds troubling, but it's hardly even a Government proposal for legislation, never mind a Bill being laid before parliament. And the decision to withhold the draft may still be appealed.

    This seems to be an early draft (a bit like the ACTA negotiations, perhaps) since the grounds for withholding are:

    • the material is still in draft form
    • the material has not gone through the necessary whole-of-government review and approval processes; and
    • to release such material at this stage would, in [the bureaucrat's] view, prejudice the current negotiations and decision making processes which are in train

    So the Department concerned is probably committed to something like the draft, and they are trying to work out what is feasible, but the rest of the government has not yet had a chance to comment.

    The appropriate response at this stage is probably (1) appeal, (2) contact representatives in government and opposition who may oppose any provisions that threaten civil liberties, and (3) use the media (and slashdot) to raise awareness that something is coming in the future.

    But it is not normal to release early drafts (that have not yet been thought through properly) to the public - at that stage you could not possibly have a workable policy, and people may get very worked up about errors that the government themselves will address. Surely the time for public scrutiny is when concrete proposals are made?

    Though crowdsourcing of bills might be interesting... it worked for the constitution in Iceland, didn't it?

    • Posting to undo a jittery-finger-offtopic-mod (damn these virtual keyboards....)

      For the record, I saw this as interesting/insightful....

      cheers,

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If a would be law can be derailed by public scrutiny... it has no business being *anywhere* in the process to become a law. Seriously. If the words are so sloppy, or the requirements so outrageous, then it needs to be scrapped in its entirety. Find some better fucking authors to start anew.

      If my thesis advisor comes by and wants to see my work.. it's really not promising if I have to tell him that I can't let him see it because it might prejudice his reading of my final submission.

  • I wonder if they will even post it after its law. I would think that would make it very convenient for the state. State: Sir your under arrest for violation of a law you've never heard of or seen. Guy: Um, ok. Can I see the law now? State: No. Guy: How am I going to have a trail? State: Heh, No, no, you still don't understand, go directly to jail, do not pass go, and pay us $200 along your way. This seems like a very slippy slope.
  • by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:16AM (#41617295) Journal

    There can be no democracy if institutions act in secret.

  • Super-Nanny State (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neurosine (549673) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @06:21AM (#41617319) Homepage
    I remember thinking when Bush was elected that I had to get out of the states before my freedoms were systematically ripped away. I didn't realize when I came to Australia just how much farther the process had already gotten here. They've effectively stifled protest and dissention and now the people are more or less owned by the government. When people started giving up their rights in the interest of protecting everyone, the personal choices taken away from them have increased manifold. I'd like to take my bicycle to the store without wearing a helmet. That's $100.00 fine. Ownership is control. Even when you own something here, the government controls it. All that being said, I would much rather deal with an Australian policeman than a US policeman. It's unlikely you'll be unfairly charged, or treated badly. I guess the nanny approach is nicer than the militant approach. The results though are insidious, however they are implemented.
  • The real reason for censoring such proposed laws would be if they were offensive. Do you guys feel offended by all this yet?

    • And that's exactly what they said. The public is supposed to prejudice the decision making process that's called having input to the elected body that's supposed to represent there interests.

      • by v1 (525388)

        So they don't want to tell the public about the laws they are looking to pass, because the public won't like them?

        They sure have balls to say that. Now I hope they're exposed enough for someone over there to kick them, nice and hard.

  • until everyone is signed up for the National Broadband Network - then we'll tell you what we've done.

    Can't get decent software to scan job applications but software to scan internet use will work perfectly.

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