Under Commonwealth, state and territory laws police and security agencies currently have access to data about which Internet sites you have been looking at, who you are calling and who is calling you, where you are located when using your phone or accessing your email account.
This information can be gathered without agencies such and ASIO, Federal Police and state and territory police getting a search warrant from a judicial officer. All that is required is for a senior officer of those organisations to give permission.
This data collection activity is proving disturbingly popular. In 2011-12 there were 300,000 such interceptions, up from 250,000 in 2010-11.
In a democratic society that subscribes to the rule of law such surveillance should not be allowed to occur without judicial oversight. When it functions properly the judiciary is the one arm of government in the democratic system which provides a bulwark for the individual against the state.
If elected to the Senate on September 14 the Wikileaks Party will move to amend the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act so that all requests for access to data are subject to a warrant regime. In other words, security and police agencies will have to seek a warrant from a judicial officer- a full time member of the AAT, a federal circuit judge or a federal court judge- before embarking on a data collection exercise.
Further we would also seek to amend this Act so that there is a twice yearly tabling of information about the number of warrants applied for, the number of applications granted and the nature of those requests.
Australians are also entitled to know if our security and police agencies are swapping or sharing data about Australians with overseas agencies. Again ASIO in particular should be compelled by law to table yearly a report on data sharing with overseas agencies.
Agencies like ASIO and the Federal Police must not be allowed to be superior to the community and the Wikileaks Party core principles of transparency and accountability mean that all Australians should have the right to know what these powerful agencies are doing.
As the NSA PRISM revelations show us it is also telcos and companies such as Google that are cooperating with security agencies in invasions of privacy of customers. The WLP believes the Telecommunications Act should be amended to compel all providers of information to security and police agencies to file an annual notice containing information about the number of requests they received for data access and how much data has been provided in the previous 12 months. This notice would include information about data handed over to foreign agencies as well as domestic agencies.
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