Media Release: 27th July, 2011: Remove “Big Brother” clause from Privacy Laws, say Democrats

Australian Democrats National President

Remove “Big Brother” clause from Privacy Laws, say Democrats

The existing blanket exclusion for political parties from privacy laws covering databases and the storage of personal information exposes citizens to intrusion, mistreatment and abuse, say the Australian Democrats.

“It’s time for all political parties to be brought into line by the removal of the undemocratic Section 7c of the Privacy Amendment Act 2000,” declared Australian Democrats National President and long-term privacy campaigner, Darren Churchill.

“The Democrats opposed the legislation when it was introduced and Natasha Stott Despoja subsequently introduced a Private Members Bill which was defeated by Liberal and Labor.

“The singular focus of the major parties is on marginal voters in marginal seats – a handful of people. While this is a logical campaign tactic, it makes a mockery of the high democratic principles we hold so dear.

“Exempting political parties and, by default, their allied political activity and organizations from universal privacy principles is a licence to create extensive and intrusive databases with no higher purpose than to sway democracy.

“Section 7c exempts Members of Parliament, contractors, subcontractors and volunteers of political parties from laws covering the collection, storage and use of personal information for political purposes” explained Mr Churchill.

“This is not democracy in action, it is manipulation – it places political parties above other private organisations and is a total invasion of privacy. Our laws have not kept abreast of developments in computer technology”

“When people from the big parties come door-knocking, they know exactly the issues which can change your vote. Not only have they been profiling you, they can add in any privately commissioned poll you may have answered.

“The bloke at the door is not your friendly candidate; he is Big Brother Labor or Big Brother Liberal.”

“Further, these databases risk abuse by anyone the party may choose to give access. This state of affairs erases voter sovereignty.

“No sales representative has the right to a detailed collection of private personal information of potential customers, and nor should political parties.”

“The Australian Democrats have a long history of standing up for privacy issues. We opposed Hawke’s “Australia Card,” Howard’s “Access Card,” and more recently raised privacy concerns (which were echoed by the Privacy Commissioner) on the implementation of Unique Health-Care Identifiers. We opposed Section 7c when in the Senate in 2000, and we’re calling for its removal now.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

National President, Australian Democrats

Tel: 0412 196 473

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