The proposal that the Australian Signals Directorate be permitted to access emails, bank records, and text messages of Australian citizens without their knowledge should be unequivocally rejected by all Australians.
EFA is deeply concerned that this is yet another example of governments considering intruding on the private lives of innocent Australians and further eroding what few checks and balances remain.
“I’m aghast that senior public servants would seriously propose this idea,” said EFA board member Justin Warren. “It suggests they are insufficiently aware of what history has taught us about what governments spying on their own citizens leads to. That or they are fully aware and made this proposal anyway, which would be even more disturbing.”
The powers of police forces and spying agencies have already been increased to levels not previously seen outside of wartime in Australia. There are already plenty of examples of these powers being abused, and of those responsible not being held properly to account. And yet it seems that there are those in authority who crave yet more unfettered, unaccountable power. Enough is enough.
It is time Australians had robust protections from these insatiable authoritarians. It is time that Australians had independent oversight of these shadowy agencies to ensure that they act in the best interests of all Australians, and not a dangerously ambitious few.
EFA joins the Australian Privacy Foundation in calling on the government to properly fund independent oversight bodies, and to ensure that our rights to privacy and security are adequately protected at law.