Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged australia

Elections are always a contentious time. This year, in Australia, all of the major television networks have refused to air an ad created by GetUp Australia as they consider it distasteful or they don’t want to anger Rupert Murdoch.

Channel 10 said outright on the phone that they wouldn’t run the ad because it criticises [sic] another media outlet. Lachlan Murdoch is on the company’s board. We’re sure the two are totally unrelated.

Channel 7 refused the ad because “the creative execution was considered distasteful and potentially offensive to our audience, so we have decided to make a stand.” So noble. We created a new version of the ad with the ‘offensive’ bits blurred out. They didn’t respond.

Channel 9 at least approved the ad, and ran it for four days. In fact, 615,800 people have already seen it on 9 across Brisbane. On Monday, they pulled the ad, and blamed it on a “coding error,” saying it never should have run. Whoopsadaisey.

So why, exactly are the networks hesitant to run the ad. It may have something to do with the monopoly that Murdoch has on the newspapers in Australia and the relentless propaganda his papers are pushing.

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Regardless of what one thinks of Rudd and his policies, propaganda and censorship do not lend themselves to a free and fair election.

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The Government is considering the most sweeping and radical changes to Australia’s surveillance and intelligence laws since the establishment of the original powers in 1979.

You can sign the petition here.

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The United States once said that the use of spy drones in war zones would remain the only place that they would be used. As many people suspected, the US moved to using drones on America’s borders and, slowly, have moved inland to be used on ordinary citizens. Naturally, privacy advocates continue to fight against their use, however, Victoria police in Australia have confirmed that they are assessing the use of unmanned drones in fighting crime, citing the United States’ push to use the drones in every day policing.

Police will not specify what roles drones would have in the force, but it is believed they could be used in surveillance and during car chases.

But the idea has alarmed civil libertarians who say drones could be used to track individuals who may not have committed any crime.

“They will be armed with technology that will enable them to identify individuals. So, for example, if the police wish to track a political demonstration, drones will not only be able to track where that demonstration is going but also to begin identifying the people who are members of that demonstration,” he said.

“Drones will be able to trace every movement of a person from the time they leave home in the morning to the time they get back home in the evening,” he said.

“They’re technologically sophisticated and carry great potential for tracking people who may not be involved in any sort of criminal activity.”

If Victoria police decide to go ahead and use this technology, it could have alarming consequences for everyday Australians. As citizens, they have a right to protest and demonstrate against their government as well as speak out against injustices. With the use of drones tracking their every move, many people will be too afraid to appear at a protest. While citizens most likely would not have to worry about “disappearing,” there are other ways the Australian government can convince a person not to protest.

If the drones follow a protestor home, it is trivial to then continue to track that person’s every move. In little time, the police will know the individual’s routine and can step up harassment. Under the guise of “we just have a few questions” the police can repeatedly visit the person’s place of employment. They can show up again and again at the grocery store or constantly have the drone show up at his/her home. Regular citizens will assume some sort of guilt because of the constant police and/or drone presence.

An unmanned drone regularly tracking an individual makes an effective weapon in forcing compliance by the state. The vast majority of the people will only go so far in protesting. Once the fear for life and livelihood are threatened, the government can and will control the population.

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Privacy advocates around the world have been saying for years that all the extra security in place at the world’s airports is more for show and to line someone’s pockets. Now, officials in Australia have admitted that airline security and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are more to make the people feel good and think they are safe rather than actually doing anything to prevent terrorism.

Aviation industry insiders call them “window-dressing for a nervous public” but the Australian Federal Police insists its airport teams are the frontline against terrorism.

But documents obtained from the AFP under Freedom of Information laws show the bulk of the officers’ work is checking unattended bags left outside toilets, assisting other agencies and responding to false alarms.

In 2011, the officers responded to 559 unattended items and made 102 arrests for offences ranging from stealing to assault.

The majority of their workload consists of “prevention operations” – patrols, firearms and explosive searches, passenger profiling and security checks.

One thing the documents reveal is that the AFP do nothing more than they did before the ramp up in security patrols and presence after 9/11

Aviation officials have questioned the need for such a strong permanent police presence at airports, suggesting they were there simply “to make the government look tough on terror”.

One senior executive said in his experience, the officers were expensive window-dressing.

They haven’t prevented any terror attacks, but, similar to the United States, they have the perceived illusion that they are actually doing something. The extra police may be a deterrent to the lesser, petty crimes, but the major crimes will still occur as well as the attempted smuggling of drugs, people, and weapons. It will not stop terrorism. It will make the general public feel safe while the billions of wasted dollars will make someone else’s pockets quite full.

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After trials last summer at Melbourne and Sydney airports, Australia will be installing full body scanners at all their international airports in July. Unlike the trial, there will be no other option if you are chosen to go through the machines, except under very specific medial conditions. If you refuse to go through the full body scanner, you will not be allowed to fly.

The proposed Aviation Security Amendment (Screening) Bill 2012 will make it mandatory for any passenger selected to participate in undergoing a body scan.

The “no scan, no fly” amendment closes a loophole in the legislation, which allows passengers to request a pat-down instead of having to pass through a metal detector.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said mandatory body scans were necessary to ensure the safety of airports.

“I think the public understands that we live in a world where there are threats to our security and experience shows they want the peace of mind that comes with knowing government is doing all it can,” he said.

I think the public understands that this is all a sham and that they are feeling more and more helpless in fighting against their governments who are increasingly doing whatever they want without listening to the public or safety standards.

The Australian government purchased the full body scanners from L3 Communications, an American company. These are the same scanners already in use in the United States and the same machines that are completely capable of storing your picture. Despite privacy advocates calling for the discontinuation of the scanners, they continue to persist at airports. The United States is selling the machines to other nations, assuring them that the full body scanners are safe, secure, protects your privacy, and that they help to prevent terrorism. This is not the case, nor has it ever been.

Although it is said that these full body scanners are not the cancer-causing type, we also do not know if the radiation they emit is harmful or dangerous because none of the machines have ever been tested. Australia has also not stated whether these are the passive or active type. Until they are tested, we cannot be 100% certain that we will be safe using these machines.

Given the fact that there will be no way to opt-out in Australia, the airport will be subjecting millions of travelers to unnecessary radiation with unknown effects as well as possible privacy breaches, all in the name of security theater. The Australian government has not stated clearly exactly what sort of problems Australia has that would be solved by the inclusion of full body scanners.

If you live in Australia and are concerned about full body scanners, please contact your MPs. You can also contact Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the House of Representatives and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

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