Australians have witnessed a shocking erosion in their civil liberties over the last 17 years. The Labor and Liberal parties, working together, have imposed additional restrictions on civil liberties every year since 2001. These have included:
- Internet censorship and web blocking, with the list of websites rapidly expanding.
- Criminal penalties for investigative journalists who view documents which government agencies wish to conceal.
- Laws forcing ISPs to collect metadata for warrantless access by authorities. After promising tight controls, the law has created an open slather, with Australians' internet histories now being trawled more than 1,000 times a day by dozens of agencies not mentioned in the original law1.
- New powers to monitor private communications, retrospective warrants, higher penalties for whistleblowing, extra powers to cover up scandals such as the East Timor bugging, and many more besides.
One of the worst of these laws came along at the end of 2018, when the major parties colluded to rush through the new Assistance and Access Bill.
"This bill — one of the most dramatic security bills ever introduced in Australia — forces software makers to compromise encryption and other forms of security or face imprisonment", said Miles Whiticker, President of Pirate Party Australia.
"The government ignored 15,000 comments and hundreds of detailed submissions from experts who urged changes to the bill. The ALP waved the bill through without amendments".
"Contrary to the government's absurd claims, introducing security flaws into our software will not make Australians more secure. It will simply create more opportunities for criminals and hackers, and destroy trust in Australian technology".
The Pirate Party has repeatedly warned policymakers that forcing security vendors to compromise their security is like forcing doctors to violate the Hippocratic oath. Many workers in the software industry expect that software produced in Australia will soon become unsellable on global markets given the potential risk. Those engineers who remain here will have to deal with huge risks and a potential terrible choice between undermining their customers' security and facing prison terms.
"Companies are already starting to withdraw from Australia to protect their reputation", noted Miles Whiticker. "Even the bureaucrats and politicians who think compromising Australians' security is a good idea should ask 'What is the point?', if it merely forces software firms out of Australia's jurisdiction".
"All we will have done is sacrifice another promising, innovative industry. Australia will have opted once again to shut itself off from the global forefront of innovation and creation, driving itself into an economic dead end where nothing is valued except housing speculation and digging".
"Australia's economic future has been betrayed".
The Pirate Party calls for urgent action to prevent further erosion of our speech, our privacy, and our security. The duopoly has passed more than 50 laws since 2001 eroding our civil liberties2, and this decimation of our rights will not stop unless Australians come together to defend their rights.
"We need to put the pressure on: with letters, with calls, with support for civil society groups — and with our vote. Pirate Party candidates are already out there in this election year, taking up the fight".
"Let's make 2019 the year when Australians turn the tables and start recovering our rights and liberties".
The Pirate Party is running in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia for the upcoming federal election.