Australia's New Law Would Strip Citizenship For Possessing A 'Thing' Connected With Terrorism, Or Whistleblowing

from the proportionate-response,-what's-that? dept

Things seem to be going from bad to worse in Australia. In April, it brought in mandatory data retention, and last week its own version of SOPA finally became law. Now the Australian government is working on another awful piece of legislation: a bill to revoke the citizenship of those holding dual nationality if they are “involved in terrorism.” A column in The Sydney Morning Herald gives a few examples of what that dangerously elastic concept might mean in practice:

Citizenship would automatically be stripped from a person convicted of entering an area declared to be a no-go zone by the Australian government. This would occur even if the person has entered that area for innocent purposes, such as to do business, visit friends or undertake a religious pilgrimage. The same result would follow for a person convicted of damaging Commonwealth property or possessing a ‘thing’, such as a book or downloaded file from the Internet, that is in some way connected with terrorism.

Yes, download a file that is “in some way connected with terrorism,” and your Australian citizenship will be taken away — automatically. According to the article quoted above, this is because:

[the Australian government] has responded to concerns that its proposal might be struck down by the High Court. Instead of allowing a minister to strip a person of their citizenship, the bill states that this would occur automatically. This is consistent with the current law.

An article in The Guardian points out that the bill covers whistleblowers too:

The proposed law would also capture a range of offences for disclosing matters relating to national security under section 91.1 of the [Australian] Criminal Code.

The section is titled “offence relating to espionage and similar activities”, but includes several offences for intentionally disclosing matters pertaining to national security.

The author of the article in The Sydney Morning Herald, George Williams, is a professor of law at the University of South Wales. As he says:

The government has again overplayed its hand. Its proposal goes well beyond a modest, sensible extension to the existing law so as to remove citizenship from a person who has committed a terrorist act or fought for an organisation like IS. Instead, its bill could cause people to be exiled from the Australian community where their connection to terrorism is minor, or even non-existent.

The same disregard for proportionality can be seen in the data retention and copyright laws brought in recently. Sadly, it seems likely that the proposed citizenship-stripping bill will soon join them in Australia’s Hall of Legislative Shame.

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Comments on “Australia's New Law Would Strip Citizenship For Possessing A 'Thing' Connected With Terrorism, Or Whistleblowing”

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77 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

s’t it strange how almost every government of ‘the civilised world’ is bringing in the same laws, that do damage to people who actually try to STOP something serious from happening, even if that something is by the government itself. do you think they might be collaborating with each other?
what is so funny is that they are all doing the same thing as far as copyright is concerned, as far as whistle blowing is concerned and as far as exposing the government is concerned. if this doesn’t make people sit up and take notice of a global conspiracy against the ordinary people, in favour of a few global corporations and over-rich individuals, i dont know what is!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Thank God for Mississippi

There is a saying in Alabama, “Thank God for Mississippi.” Without Mississippi, Alabama would be the worst state in many categories.

Now, citizens of the US can say, “Thank God for Australia.” No matter how much of a police state we become, we can always look to Australia and say, “There but for the grace of God…”

1stworlder (profile) says:

Re: Thank God for Mississippi

Actually Australia is turning back the boat loads of moslems that want to go to the former desert island prison colony because it has better welfare benefits than the 47 closer moslem nations that are at peace.

What people should really freak out about is in our hemisphere the Dominican Republic is deporting all Haitians that don’t have blood ties to the DR after 1920. That’s black on lower IQ black discrimination. Despite being on the same Island land mass the DR has an average IQ 15points higher than Haiti.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Thank God for Mississippi

Well the Australian government thought they were important enough to invade countries half a world away to ‘help’ them out from WMD & the Taliban/(insert current bad people) so it is only fair that the inhabitants of those countries would think that Australians actually cared about their plight when the Aussies/foreign forces leave and their country descends once more into chaos.

Of course that isn’t the case, the Australian government couldn’t give a rat’s arse about some downtrodden people in a far off land who went out of their way to help the invading forces for years, then have their families & themselves threatened with death all because they sided with the invaders.

However if they were white, English speaking Christians the red carpet would have been rolled out with non-stop flights direct to Australia all at the taxpayers expense until all the ‘good’ people had been saved from those ‘bad’ brown, foreign speaking Muslims.

Tempest In A Thimble says:

Had minion read the Brisbane comments: no one has ever been prosecuted under the prior law.

And even less likely under this: would have to be dual national, a terrorist, and caught at it. Nothing but as also noted, a ploy by politicians for Labor voters.

Here at Techdirt, the more narrow and more anomalistic a news item, the more likely to be re-written (as Masnick wrote) with “its typical approach to these things: take something totally out of context, put some hysterical and inaccurate phrasing around it, dump an attention-grabbing headline on it and send it off to the press.”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Had minion read the Brisbane comments: no one has ever been prosecuted under the prior law.

So if no-one’s been persecuted under the previous law, then why are they introducing this one? Either they clearly intend for it to be used, or they’re proposing a law that they believe will never be used, and either case deserves to be called out as a bad idea.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Had minion read the Brisbane comments: no one has ever been prosecuted under the prior law.

No one was ever prosecuted (and they mean convicted) since the courts have always dismissed the charges ( a whole heap of people have been charged with it though)

In fact the new legislation that the current Liberal party is going for is for NO judicial oversight, no Procedural fairness, and all based on what the Minister wants. Our constitution specifically forbids this sort of power being laced in the hands of any politician. We had a similar thing in 1957 when the then government tried to do same thing with communists. It then after the high court wiped the law went to a referendum, the referendum failed BIG TIME!

You like most of your comments have no fucking clue what you are talking about, and this is nothing to do with the labor party (who some in it are actually all for this change in legislation).

Next time before you comment out of the blue like, on something you have no clue on SHUT THE FUCK UP! Or you make yourself look more incompetent and moronic then we already know you are

That One Guy (profile) says:

Barely concealed intentions

The proposed law would also capture a range of offences for disclosing matters relating to national security under section 91.1 of the [Australian] Criminal Code.

The section is titled “offence relating to espionage and similar activities”, but includes several offences for intentionally disclosing matters pertaining to national security.

There is no ‘would also’, the whistleblowing section is pretty much the main reason for the law, with the ‘terrorism’ bits just tacked on as the smokescreen. This is an attempt to stop whistleblowers from exposing government actions, it has nothing to do with ‘stopping terrorism’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course a US/Australian dual national can enter a “no go” country using an American (as long as the American government does not have its own travel ban) and their activities will be NOT SUBJECT to Australian law.

What you do on an American passport is only subject to U.S. laws. As long as you do not travel anywhere (e.g Cuba) that is banned by the American government, you will be OK, since U.S. passports are ONLY subject to U.S. laws.

Since a sizeable chunk of Australia’s population also has U.S. citizenship, someone could use a U.S. passport to travel to such places, as long as they not violating AMERICAN law, and be NOT SUBJECT to prosecution under Australian laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wrong on so many counts. The whole idea behind this is that as soon as you (as a dual Australian/American citizen) enter Syria and join up with any of the various militias or whatever, you become just an American citizen – the Australian part is revoked, permanently. It doesn’t matter what passport you travel or enter on – you would lose your Australian citizenship as soon as the authorities are made aware.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You natually could not join up with a militia, since that would break U.S. law. But if you wanted to travel to Syria, say, just as a tourist, that does not current break any U.S. law, and as long as you used your United States passport to enter and depart Syria, that makes you only subject to U.S. laws.

So the part about “even if the person has entered that area for innocent purposes, such as to do business, visit friends or undertake a religious pilgrimage” DOES NOT APPLY to those who use a United States passport.

It also would not apply to those did not LIVE in Australia. So a USA/Australia dual national living in the United States would ONLY be subject to AMERICAN laws, as long as they used the U.S. passports to travel to Syria, or any other “no go” country. As long as you did not break any U.S. laws, a USA/Australia dual national living in America would be not subject to this Australian law, as long as they do not break any U.S. laws.

And also the part about downloading certain files under this law also do not apply Australian citizens living outside of Australian. A USA/Australia dual national, living in the United States, is only subject to American laws, on what is downloaded from from the United States.

It is just like the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba. A USA/Australia dual national who lives in Australia and uses their Australian passport is not subject to the ban in Cuba travel as long as they use their Australian passports to enter and depart Cuba and they are living in Australia

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It doesn’t work like that. US and Australian passports are linked very closely through 5eyes data matching. When you leave a country both the US and Australia are informed, and when you arrive, and any visas you apply for.
Anything you do wrong will also go to both countries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

However, Australian/USA dual nationals who go to Cuba, who do not live in the United States, are not subject to the US ban on travel to Cuba. As long as you do not live in America and do not use a U.S. connecting city to get to Cuba, from Australia, the restrictions on Cuba travel do not apply to you as long as you use a Australia passport.

Laws like America’s Cuba travel ban, or the proposed Australian terrorism legislation only apply if you LIVE in a country. If you do not LIVE in Australia, then this new law does NOT APPLY to you. American citizens travelling in the United States on U.S. passports are ONLY subject to American laws, while on U.S. territory, even if they are Australian citizens, as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The US will know when one of it’s citizens travels to Cuba.
When you check-in in Australia to fly to Cuba, that information is sent to the US under 5eyes information matching. The US has the info before you’ve got to the boarding lounge. If they don’t want you to travel you can be stopped from boarding or flagged for questioning on arrival.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

There are no direct flights from Australia to Cuba. What I am saying is that a US/Australia dual national could fly to Argentina, and then board flight to Cuba from Argentina.

What I am talking about is flying to Argentina, and then flying to Havana, Cuba from there. Since the flight from Australia is to Argentina, you can avoid US travel restrictions on Cuba, since you are not using a US connecting city.

There is no way that the Americans will known your final destination is Cuba, since you are going to Argentina, first, and changing planes there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

They’ll know an American passport holder has flown out of Australia going to Cuba on an Australian passport. Your American passport will have an alert flagged on it and you’d want to be wearing clean undies next time you go through US customs.
When you go through immigration, if a passport check is done, then it registers that you hold more than one passport.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Australia knows you’re going to Buenos Aires, and connecting to Havana. The US knows this at exactly the same time, Australia shares it with the US.

I don’t know what treaties exist between Argentina and the US, it’s possible they get told twice, it’s possible your trip stops there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Not if you fly on Cubana, since the reservation records would be on their servers, which are at a colocation center in Toronto, Canada.

The IP address for Cubana’s website traces back to a colocation center in Toronto. Since Cubana’s servers are in Canada, they are not subject to any U.S. laws, including the travel restrictions on Cuba.

Cubana cannot be forced, by the U.S. government, to hand over its passenger lists, since their servers are on Canadian soil, making them only subject to Canadian laws or Australian ones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Travel bans for Australian citizens

What you are not understanding about the legislation in question is the following:

The Australian governing party doesn’t give a damn about which passport you use to travel where. Its only concern is if you have Australian citizenship and also have other citizenship. If, while you have Australian citizenship, you enter a banned location, and the government is informed of this, you will loose your Australian citizenship. As far as it is concerned, they are not making you stateless but are simply removing your privilege of having Australia citizenship.

Please not that they consider it a privilege to have Australian citizenship not a right.

I fully expect that even native born Australians (irrespective of whether you be blackfella or whitefella) will in future have their citizenship revoked under this or some other government.

At this point in time, there is no functional or meaningful difference between any of the major parties, Liberal/National, Labour or Greens. Supporters of any party can argue otherwise, but when all the facade is stripped away, all parties are ready to screw the citizens of this great nation. They may want to do it in different ways, but they mean to do it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Travel bans for Australian citizens

However, if you do not live in Australia, the government cannot enforce this. Just like Australia/USA dual nationals can avoid the US ban on travel to Cuba, the opposite is true for the other way around. A USA/Australia dual national can use their US passport, if living in the U.S., and simply avoid any Australian connecting city. If you do not land in Australia, they cannot prosecute you. As long as you are not breaking any U.S. laws, I highly doubt that U.S. government will extradite you do Australia, for prosecution, as long as you are not breaking U.S. laws, any more than Australian is going to extradite one of its citizens to the U.S. for violating any part of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Travel bans for Australian citizens

You don’t understand how immigration data is shared, especially through intelligence partnerships like 5eyes (Aus, NZ, Can, UK,US).
The Passport holder fly’s, not the passport. If you have two passports they are both flagged when you travel.

Also, Why Cuba? This is about dual citizen Australians and muslim terror. Not communism.
It’s not really about Aus/us citizens as it is about aus/ iraqui, afghani etc.
It’s about immigrants who have come in as dependant children and leaving to train in Afghanistan not being allowed to return

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Travel bans for Australian citizens

it has nothing to do with terrorism or even people leaving to fight alongside the terrorists at it’s core. That’s just the excuse/justification they are using to remove the rights of their citizens.

You can bet your life it will not be used against terrorism but will instead be used against all types of people those in charge suddenly decide they don’t like. be it because of how they think, act talk or live their lifestyle.

This is about controlling their population to the extent they lord over the serfs. The focus is enriching themselves at the expense of screwing over everyone else.

It is not like this has never happened before in recent history. We are bless to be living in such a literate age where we have the ability to document the past and learn from the mistakes that are made.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Travel bans for Australian citizens

No… you need to be a dual national with the ALLEGATION of ‘terrorist related offenses’ placed against you and the Minister can then on their whim remove your Australian Citizenship.

The proposed legislation requires No conviction, nor judicial oversight. It will INSTANTLY meet with a High Court Challenge and the law will be repealed. The Govt knows this, Ministers within the Govt have already leaked there horror about the proposals (Mostly ones who have been practicing solicitors).

As for the current law. YES it has been enacted a fair few times, just no convictions using it since the courts here do NOT kowtow to govt bullshit propaganda or wishes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Travel bans for Australian citizens

This is not about prosecution but about removal of citizenship. Your other passport will be flagged and you may thereafter assume that you will not be able to enter Australia on any condition.

If you are kept out of the country permanently, that will be fine as far as they are concerned. They do not then have to provide any support to you as would be the case if you returned and were imprisoned.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All three of your paragraphs are so wrong that the wrongness is incredible.

In fact what you’ve just said in ALL THREE of your paragraphs is one of the most insanely idiotic and wrong things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent responses were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought or even correct. Everyone in this thread is now dumber for having listened to it…

Anonymous Coward says:

This sounds like a catch all to give the government blanket powers against people they don’t like. Stripping citizenship automatically means that they can avoid alot of laws that prevent action against citizens. Spy agency can’t target local citizens? They aren’t citizens anymore. Australian citizens granted certain legal rights and freedoms? They aren’t citizens anymore.

Imagine if the NSA was able to say, in response to all their scandals, ‘Its okay. The moment they become persons of interest, they aren’t americans, so the laws don’t apply!’

Well.. stop imagining, and look over at Australia.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Incorrect, the government doesn’t have to follow the law because they are ABOVE the law – they make the law which everyone else has to follow.

Senator Brandis is the example of the Rule of Law – he makes the law and he is above the law. Laws only apply to the unimportant non-entities who are the citizens of Australia. Senator Brandis is not a citizen, he is a ruler of the citizens. It is his right to rule as Attorney-General and a member of Parliament and when he leaves Parliament, he will retain all rights and privileges that he had as a member of Parliament.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, for two reasons. Firstly, you can’t hold any other citizenship while being an Australian MP or Senator, and secondly there is a provision which allows the Minister to override the forfeiture of citizenship (entirely on his discretion), supposedly after someone pointed out that Australians fighting with the Kurds against ISIS were covered by the last Foreign Fighters Act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, there goes my next Mad Max movie!

There is a way to use a VPN in Australia to avoid this law. If you are travelling to Australia, or any country that censors the net, you can set up a VPN that cannot be detected or defeated, if your home broadband allows servers.

You install SoftEther on your machine and set both the SSL VPN and the LT2P VPN. You will also need a router. Just install the software, and set up your login credentials.

What you do is first login to the SSL VPN on your server, and then log into the LT2P VPN on top of that. But there is the trick, you use the internal adress on your network where your server is. This will totally defeat all censorship, and also defeat all cracking and sniffing of SSL. This works on Taco Bell’s network, I have tested this, so it will work anywhere the net is filtered, even in your workplace, and there will be no possible way for the boss to detect or block what you are doing.

I have had a customer on my small VPN wanting to get past Taco Bell’s draconian filtering and snifing, and I found it. I can login to my SSL VPN, then straight back out again on my LT2P VPN on my server, but I use the internal address of 192.168.1.2, instead of the external IP address for the server, and I get right through, totally defeating their filterig, and sniffing system. In any business, you gotta keep the customers happy.

If this works at Taco Bell, it will work anywhere, even in countries like China, Iran, or Australia that censor the Net. There is no POSSIBLE way to stop this without blocking all port 443 connections.

So anyone travelling to Australia who might run afoul of this new law can set up a VPN on their home broadband connection, before they leave, and there is no possible way your activity can be cracked, sniffed, detected, or blocked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The whole of Australia is a migration no-go zone. The previous Federal right wing government excised the mainland to stop any refugees claiming any rights if they made it to the mainland. Before it was just the offshore islands, but then the refugees bypassed those & went for the big island instead. This is not racist in any way, just the the right wing nut jobs, they’ll tell ya.

Anonymous Coward says:

Coming to every other “free world” nation in the next decade.

I wonder will my fellow Canadians and our southern neighbours the Americans fight back when this happens to us or just pretend it won’t affect us.

Dissent can be applied here as well. If you speak badly about anyone in the government this could be applied to you. Don’t say won’t happen. This law right here was never supposed to happen and yet it is.

HoleTurth says:

People aspiring for freedom, fighting for human rights or pledging for political reform have long been labeled terrorists in countries like Iran, Syria or China. The western democracy has not been put to test in the same way, though (with people opposing the foundations of their government en masse rather than asking for change).

With the ever increasing social injustice and the power new media gives to everyday man to voice their opinion, perhaps laws like the Canadian bill C-24 and this one are indicators of governments preparing to deal with dissidents.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: When Truth Is Treason

(… thinks that the sword of Islam will kill all of us…)

And as long as you folks keep on believing that he is a loony and that he actually thinks that Islam crap is real, then his work is done and his pay is earned.

Never attribute to stupidity or incompetence, the things that are done by those who earn their position and income through deception and guile.

GEMont (profile) says:

Bimbos hate doing wrinkly old dudes...

Hey now, time’s a wasting’ and the Fascist Billionaires are NOT getting any younger, (Bimbos hate doing wrinkly old dudes, and cocaine is just as likely to give them a heart attack), so its high time for the Five Eyes member nations to, one by one, start to implement the Order of Draco, and begin peeling away the facade of Democracy and Justice to expose the Neo-Swastika: ($$)

Canada, Australia, Britain, USA, New Zealand.

What do they all have in common lately – new laws that eliminate both justice and democracy for the little guy and make billionaires richer.

Wutta Coincidence!

Aktaruzzaman (profile) says:

Do you know, how to be a citizen of US?

To be a citizen of USA, You must know how to pass citizens tests exam, There is three part of exam.

  1. Your reading skills
  2. Your writing skills
  3. General knowledge about the USA

I Found this knowledge from https://citizenstests.com/blogs and that is very helpful for me.

I know this is the of topic but for better knowledge everyone need to know this i think.

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