Media Release: 20 November 2007: Only the Democrats will protect your privacy

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ACT Democrats 2007

Media Release 20 November 2007
Only the Democrats will protect your privacy

“We will stop mobile phones from being bugging devices!” declared privacy campaigner and Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser, Darren Churchill

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment Bill 2007 which gives significant new powers to law enforcement agencies to listen to private conversations, was passed by the Liberal government with the support of the Labor opposition in September

There is no provision for them to require a warrant. And no accountability to the courts or to the parliament. The government plans to replace the Medicare Card with an Access Card (a national identity card) by 2010.

The Democrats Privacy Policy and Access Card survey were released by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja in Adelaide today.

“We need to reform the Privacy Act to give people greater protection. Our privacy laws haven’t kept pace with new technologies. Anti-terror laws forced through by the government and the opposition have increased the powers of enforcement agencies, but have failed to guarantee protection of privacy.” Mr Churchill said

“There is no accountability, no checks and balances under these laws. The Democrats are committed to reform the Privacy Act to ensure peoples’ privacy and to making sure the draconian anti-terror laws are wound back immediately”

“Peoples’ right to privacy includes being protected from the introduction of an Access Card. It is nothing short of a national identity card, and will create the largest mass centralisation of personal information we have ever seen in Australia” Mr Churchill said. “The government claims it won’t be compulsory, but people won’t be able to use government services without it. That mightn’t be technically compulsory, but it is coercion, a bit like the poll tax the Thatcher government had in the UK.”

“The Access Card is worse that the old Australia Card which was proposed in the 1980s because technology and the ability to store and track personal information is so much more sophisticated than it was back then”

Mr Churchill (who was involved in the anti-Australia Card rallies of 1986) said “Only by the Democrats using the balance of power to block the Australia Card were we able to see it eventually abandoned. Again, it is only the Democrats who will protect people from the Access Card and centralised data bases now.”

“Even the best intended privacy legislation will not prevent future governments from increasing the coverage and uses of the card (function creep). It has the potential to become a domestic passport and will enable peoples’ every movement to be tracked.” Mr Churchill said.

“The Democrats survey showed that 73% of people are opposed to an ID card outright. I will continue to campaign against an Access Card, as the Democrats and I have always done. Democrats are the only party that can be trusted to protect your privacy.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

Darren.Churchill@act.democrats.org.au

0412 196 473

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