Australian Home Affairs Minister Says Government Still Considering Spying On Its Own Citizens

from the be-part-of-the-open-book-experience dept

Nothing’s too much to sacrifice for the greater good of Australia. Not even Australians.

A series of police raids on journalists has raised questions about how far the government will go to control what Australian citizens know about their government’s activities. Three separate raids targeted leaks that revealed, among other things, possible war crimes committed by Australian soldiers and the government’s plans to place its own citizens under surveillance by expanding the power allotted to the Australian Signals Directorate.

The unintentional side effect of government raids designed to discourage further reporting on government secrets is the government is now confirming one of the leaks it targeted.

Peter Dutton has confirmed that a plan to create new powers to spy on Australians – which sparked police raids at the centre of the press freedom row – is still on the table.

On Sunday the home affairs minister claimed it was “complete nonsense” that the government supported spying on Australians but, in the next breath, called for a “sensible discussion” about whether the Australian Signals Directorate should gain such powers, which he argued could help disrupt paedophile networks and stop cyber-attacks.

Ah, the old “we’re not going to spy on you, unless…” National security takes a backseat to child porn purveyors in Dutton’s directly contradictory statements, but it’s still the same tired argument. Domestic surveillance makes it easier for the government to catch bad guys and efficiency should always take precedence over rights and liberties.

This followed other statements from Dutton, most of which followed the same pattern: deny the government wants to spy on Australians, followed by reasons why the government should be allowed to spy on Australians.

“We don’t support spying on Australians,” he said. “That was a complete nonsense.”

“But where you’ve got a paedophile network that operates out of Manila that live-streams children being abused, there might be an ability for an Australian agency to try and shut that server down.

“If that same server was operating in Fitzroy, here in Melbourne, then there would be very limited capacity in certain circumstances where it was masked or it was rerouted and … we weren’t able to shut that paedophile network down.”

Well, I guess if the ends justify the means… Like others angling for greater surveillance capabilities at the expense of the public’s freedoms, Dutton claims Australians are only a “sensible discussion” away from accepting additional government intrusion.

That this “discussion” remains on the table despite Australians’ opposition to it just shows how essential it is that Australian journalists remain free to publish leaked documents without fear of government reprisal. Dutton has tipped his hand, though, suggesting neither Australians nor the country’s journalists will be as free in the future. He has refused to condemn the raids on journalists and is openly pitching a surveillance program whose unauthorized publication was greeted with a show of force.

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Comments on “Australian Home Affairs Minister Says Government Still Considering Spying On Its Own Citizens”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Yeah, you really do

Seems like a pretty simple rule of thumb: if you try to claim that ‘You don’t support X’ and then immediately follow that up with some excuse for why X is not really that bad, or could even be good in some certain situations, then yes, you absolutely do support X, you just aren’t honest enough to admit it.

Anonymous Coward says:

what is it with governments in the so called ‘democratic and free world countries’? we are imitating those countries that we have always despised and condemned. surely, us doing the same as them is giving even more excuse for them to not just continue but to ramp up even higher what they are doing, isn’t it? what is the real reason(s) for this behavior? i do not believe it’s the terrorist thing, as bad as it may well be and as wrong as it is but to want to know what everyone in your own country is doing, every second of every day must have more of a reason. in my opinion, it’s to ensure that those who are making these decisions, those who are in charge of countries (and i dont just mean governments!) are able to make sure that their despicable practices are not found out and broadcast world-wide. in other words, they want to be able to do exactly as they like with no consequences and turning the world into a giant surveillance state is accomplishing that, all to our detriment!

TFG says:

Re: Re:

Power corrupts.

Once you have power, it is easy to start thinking it makes you better, or smarter. Or, maybe, you just wanted the perks that it can afford you in the first place. Once you have power, it’s hard to give it up.

Put very simply? Every person in a position of authority faces a temptation to become authoritarian. What we are seeing is government officials failing to resist that temptation.

The idea behind the system of checks and balances in the American Constitution was to try and tamp down on these tendencies, but no system is perfect. As for other ostensibly non-authoritarian governmental systems, there are various strategies to deal with the tendency, but again, no system is perfect.

Personal greed and pride are very difficult to guard against.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It also doesn’t help that the ones most attracted to power (psychos, schizophrenics, etc.) are the ones most likely to seek out and attempt to gain power…

Once there, power corrupts, some more than others, but it corrupts everyone who has it to some degree (again some much more than others if they already had those tendencies – like if they are Australian…).

R,og S/ says:

Re: Re: Re: schizophreniform disorders

Schizophrenics are one of the most mis -diagnosed of all mental health patients, and much research indicates that more often than not, schizophrenia is a bogus label.

Pschopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and sadists, however, fill the ranks of all police departments, political offices, judges benches and social services.

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