Australian AG Insists New Anti-Terror Law Only Allows What It Allows; Refuses To Say What It Allows

from the democracy-in-action dept

Yesterday we told you about just one of the troubling aspects of a proposed “anti-terror” law in Australia, in that under a single warrant, ASIO, the intelligence gathering organization, could effectively monitor the entire internet. During some Parliamentary discussions on this, Senator Scott Ludlam tried to add an amendment limiting the number of computers that could be monitored under a single warrant. Brandis’ “contribution” to the debate on this was to accuse Ludlam of being a “liar” for claiming that the law would allow the tapping of the entire internet under a single warrant and then… refusing any further explanation. The exchange is really quite incredible. Ludlam says he’d be happy if, in fact, his understanding of their previous conversation was in error, and thus wished for clarification. Brandis responds:

What ASIO would be empowered to do is that which is authorized by the warrant, which is, in turn, governed by the terms of the Act.

Holy tautology Batman! Ludlam appears reasonably sarcastically frustrated in return:

Thank you for your opaque and utterly unhelpful response.

He asks further specific questions about what the law would cover and Brandis repeats: “I don’t have anything to add to my previous answer.” It’s basically a giant “fuck you” to anyone wanting to make sure that the law isn’t overly broad and doesn’t allow spying on the entire internet. Remember, Brandis claims that was a lie, but refuses to clarify beyond the “utterly unhelpful” statement he made.

Unfortunately, despite all of that insanity, the bill still passed, without Ludlam’s amendment, meaning that this is likely to be the law in Australia soon. And, of course, there are other troubling aspects to the law beyond just being able to monitor everything on a single warrant. As many people have pointed out, there’s a free-speech destroying provision that would allow for 10 years of jail time for whistleblowers and anyone (including journalists) who repeat what the whistleblowers revealed.

Anyone ? including journalists, whistleblowers, bloggers and others ? who “recklessly” discloses “information … [that] relates to a special intelligence operation” faces up to 10 years’ jail.

In short, Australia is guaranteeing that not only will they not have their own Edward Snowden but they won’t have their own Glenn Greenwald, either. Combine that with the massive new powers to spy on everyone with a single warrant, and Australia just massively expanded the surveillance state, and put a gag order on anyone who wants to expose its abuses.

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Comments on “Australian AG Insists New Anti-Terror Law Only Allows What It Allows; Refuses To Say What It Allows”

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25 Comments
Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

“The law does what it does, but we’re not telling you what it does because then people might get mad at us for spying on everyone.”
Why don’t we as citizens make our own laws that we don’t have to follow, and just force them on our government? I bet they will hate it, and maybe then they will understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I like this, first pool some money for road traffic signs that look like the real ones in your country and place them in areas where they would be either really useful and city hall has been too stubborn to listen or either entirely remove one of their road traffic signs you don’t like.

Then have every regulsr joe do this in other areas of society.

MadMatt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They don’t need one. Australia is part of the five eyes. Australia has one and they just share. The real beauty for NSA is that the Australian law does not except US citizens like the NSA one does. So now with an Australian warrant they can monitor all those US citizens that were exempt before.

Neat tidy and just oh so convenient. The work of a failing leader shoring up voter dissatisfaction with a new slant on “there is a communist under your bed”

Anonymous Coward says:

this is just an extension of what happens in the USA. all governments are going down the same path, spying on everyone they possibly can, removing privacy from everyone they can and implementing every conceivable way of ensuring the planet becomes nothing but a giant corporation, keeping everyone except the 1% in abject riches! people have tried to do this before and failed. why it seems to be getting accepted this time, i dont know. maybe because any sort of fight against it results in individuals being whisked away, never to be seen or heard from again. as for any kind of mass assemblies to fight against the changes, why do people think that police forces everywhere are being kitted out with military grade equipment and laws preventing any sort of congregating?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Once upon a time there were people who actually worked for and on behalf of the public. Over time those people have been replaced with extremists taking extreme stances, overpowering those who still had a conscious and forcing the rest of them out.
What we have left are governments who are run by power hungry mad warlords who only see the public as a thing to rule rather than to lead.
Our rules, regulations, ideals and morals have all been chipped away, speck by speck with every new contemptible, incremental, slippery-slope legislation that’s passed in the name of an abstract threat, designed in order to give those with power even more power.

Some of us still have freedom to discuss it with hatred and despise without being immediately arrested and reeducated or left to rot behind prison bars, but how much longer do you think that’s going to last before some crooked, corporate-sponsored dog manages to sneak through legislation changing that too?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It won’t matter which group is in power, they will ALL track down the path of totalitarianism. I have been mostly conservative and expected both Labour and Greens to go down this path. Now, there is no difference between LNP, Labour and Greens.

Bad day for Australia – it has officially become a police state. Many people have come here to escape that in their former countries and now they will face it again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He’s a member of the Green’s that alone says enough. In this instance he has come out on the right side, but the rest of the policies of the Greens are enough to say they are bad for this country.

You will always get pollies who will in specific instances stand up for what is a right and good position, but if they are party members (of whatever stripe) it will be a rare day that they will cross the floor.

My own position here is that if the Greens were in power then they would still keep this atrocious legislation and not repeal it. It has too many “benefits” to the ruling power to just give up and roll back.

So, as much as I have used what Senator Ludlam has said and who he is to highlight the inappropriateness of the LNP stand, as a member of the Greens, I still don’t trust him.

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