Electronic Frontiers Australia https://www.efa.org.au Promoting and protecting digital rights in Australia since 1994. Thu, 20 Sep 2018 20:39:48 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 The Proposed Home Affairs Assistance and Access Bill Affects the Australian Economy https://www.efa.org.au/2018/09/07/the-proposed-home-affairs-assistance-and-access-bill-affects-the-australian-economy/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/09/07/the-proposed-home-affairs-assistance-and-access-bill-affects-the-australian-economy/#respond Fri, 07 Sep 2018 00:15:37 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9368 Continue reading ]]> The Australian Government doesn’t own the Internet, but increasingly it seems to want to. Many of our members own and work in Internet businesses, and they’ve been telling us, loudly and clearly, that they follow the laws of Australia, they don’t place themselves above the law, and they are not a safe haven for bad actors.

And they’re worried that the Assistance and Access Bill will damage their businesses.

These are Australian businesses that don’t sell, scan or phish their customer’s data. Yet the Access and Assistance Bill opens the door for government to ask them to spy on their customers and to compromise their security.

Your security.

People don’t like Google or Facebook trawling their data, and they don’t like the ability for the Australian Government to do the same. Customers here and overseas will simply stop trusting Australian businesses if they believe that the government  is hiding inside their products and services, spying on all and sundry.

Unfortunately, Australia is already seen as having a Government that it is not open to scrutiny or external oversight, and that it will push forward with technology choices that are flawed, unjust and hurt people. My Health Record, Centrelink’s Robo-debt, the Senate inquiry into digital delivery, and CensusFail are all evidence of a Government that just doesn’t understand computers. Now, thanks to this Bill, these failings are going to further damage the economy - unless you help us by speaking up.

While you are writing your submission to email to the Department by Monday 10 September to assistancebill.consultation@homeaffairs.gov.au also consider sending it to other Ministers as well.

The Access and Assistance Bill may start in the Department of Home Affairs, but it spreads to other portfolios, too. Technology, privacy, the economy and the Internet is not confined to a single Department.

If you think this legislation will also affect Australian enterprises and their ability to trade internationally then these Ministers will care about your views too, so email or cc in:

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Senator the Hon Marise Payne - Foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham - minister.trade@dfat.gov.au

If you think this legislation will affect Australia's position as a nation of industry, innovation and science tell the:

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology

Hon Karen Andrews MP (website with new portfolio not updated) karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au

If you have views with a regional perspective then tell:

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development

Hon Michael McCormack MP - michael.mccormack.mp@aph.gov.au

And if you think that compromising the success of Australian businesses in a competitive Internet and digital market will affect jobs and businesses now and in the future, then the Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations and the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education will both care about your views

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations

Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP - kelly.odwyer.mp@aph.gov.au

Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash - Senator.Cash@aph.gov.au

For advice on how to make a submission, go to https://www.efa.org.au/get-involved/making-a-submission

If you would like to share your submission with us we’d love to read it please email memberadmin@efa.org.au after you have sent your own submission to assistancebill.consultation@homeaffairs.gov.au


More reading:

EFA board member Peter Tonoli has just published a blog post with a great links on background content - let's just paste them here shall we?

The devil is in the detail of government bill to enable access to communications data

Anti-encryption bill is ‘overreach’

A Critical Analysis of the Proposed Assistance & Access Bill 2018—an Australian Initiative to Legitimize Decryption

https://www.efa.org.au/2018/09/07/the-proposed-home-affairs-assistance-and-access-bill-affects-the-australian-economy/feed/ 0
Home Affairs Wants to Know - What Do You Think of its ASS Access? https://www.efa.org.au/2018/09/05/home-affairs-wants-to-know-what-do-you-think-of-its-ass-access/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/09/05/home-affairs-wants-to-know-what-do-you-think-of-its-ass-access/#comments Wed, 05 Sep 2018 02:50:10 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9352 Continue reading ]]> If you have one task you can prioritise over the weekend can EFA suggests this: submit any comments on the The Assistance and Access Bill 2018 to assistancebill.consultation@homeaffairs.gov.au

Emails need to be in by Monday 10 September 2018. There is no format or minimum response, and the more direct submissions they receive the better the chances they will listen (you’d hope).

We've been asking for two years to see the legislation, and having only four weeks to respond is frustrating. The legislation runs over 200 pages, it’s broad, and it’s complicated.

By all accounts the Government has spoken to big tech companies before making this legislation public. We all know that the big companies will be fine, especially the multinational tech companies with massive budgets and great lawyers who will only do what they need to do. What about the rest us? There has been no consultation despite years of asking. It’s hard not to feel cynical about the Government’s intent.  

This legislation will shape the landscape of technology development in Australia and the effects will be felt for decades to come. We need encryption if we are going to safely store, share, and provide services for private data. These laws will weaken security for all Australians by undermining the very technologies we use to keep us safe. These laws will affect how Australia is viewed internationally, and we have already seen people sharing online warnings for those travelling to Australia for business.

The Federal Government has consistently shown that it is not open to scrutiny or external oversight, and that it will push forward with technology choices that are flawed, unjust and hurt people. My Health Record, Centrelink’s Robo-debt, the Senate inquiry into digital delivery, and CensusFail are all evidence of a Government that gets digital so wrong.

The proposed laws greatly expand the powers of law enforcement and other agencies to gain access to the private data of Australians, undermining the digital security they depend on to do their banking, buy things online, and to communicate with their friends. While the government attempts to characterise these new powers as not providing a ‘backdoor’ that is precisely what they do.

EFA is greatly concerned by the wide powers granted by these laws, and the lack of independent oversight of their use. These laws represent yet another major reduction in Australians’ digital rights using scaremongering about terrorism and crime to justify more power in the hands of unaccountable government agencies.

EFA previously joined with AccessNow and 76 other organisations in urging Parliament not to undermine encryption but clearly more is needed. EFA calls on all Australians to tell the government that digital rights are human rights and they must be protected.

For advice on how to make a submission, go to https://www.efa.org.au/get-involved/making-a-submission

For more information about the bill, go to https://efa.org.au/blog-on-assistance-and-access-bill

To show your support for a secure Australia, sign the petition at https://secureaustralia.org.au/

Further Reading: Australian human rights lawyer Lizzie O’Shea made the New York Times Opinion section with Australia Wants to Take Government Surveillance to the Next Level

From Digital Rights Watch: Defend Encryption in Australia

From Access Now: What (we think) you should know about Australia’s new encryption bill

Great blog post: Assistance and Access Bill 2018 Analysis

From EFF: Trust Us, We’re Secretly Working for a Foreign Government: How Australia’s Proposed Surveillance Laws Will Break The Trust Tech Depends On

Don't miss the Juice Media's Honest Government Ad and the inspiration for Ass Access commissioned with support from Digital Rights Watch

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September 12 - Pre-Crime film & digital rights night in Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne https://www.efa.org.au/2018/08/27/september-12-pre-crime-film-digital-rights-night-in-brisbane-sydney-melbourne/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/08/27/september-12-pre-crime-film-digital-rights-night-in-brisbane-sydney-melbourne/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 12:42:05 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9338 Continue reading ]]> Tickets available now via links below! Book early to avoid disappointment or lack of pizza. 6:30 pm at ThoughtWorks.

Join us for Pre-Crime, a film where science fiction turns into disturbing fact as forecasting software, algorithms and databases quickly become the new fortune-tellers for future crimes, driving us to ask: how much are we willing to abandon for the sake of security?

Followed by a discussion about surveillance technology, predictive algorithms and the interaction between state and citizen with food and drinks.

Tickets $10 wages; $5 unwaged/concession




Brought to you in collaboration by: 

Details about event printer on flyer as listed above

https://www.efa.org.au/2018/08/27/september-12-pre-crime-film-digital-rights-night-in-brisbane-sydney-melbourne/feed/ 0
EFA joins Access Now & 76 others in asking Ministers to stop anti-encryption legislation https://www.efa.org.au/2018/07/17/efa-joins-access-now-76-others-in-asking-ministers-to-stop-anti-encryption-legislation/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/07/17/efa-joins-access-now-76-others-in-asking-ministers-to-stop-anti-encryption-legislation/#comments Tue, 17 Jul 2018 02:00:38 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9315 Continue reading ]]> Today Electronic Frontiers joins 76 organizations, companies, and individuals, in sending a letter to leaders in the Australian government asking them “not to pursue legislation that  would undermine tools, policies, and technologies critical to protecting individual rights, safeguarding the economy, and providing security both in Australia and around the world.”

The letter has been sent to Senator the Honorable Scott Ryan, President of the Senate, Christian Porter MP, Attorney-General for Australia, Angus Taylor MP Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security, Tony Smith MP Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Mark Dreyfus QC, MP, Shadow Attorney-General for Australia.

The letter has been initiated by global digital rights organisation Access Now. “Australia is facing a choice on cybersecurity and encryption: real security or false,” said Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager at Access Now. “The country can either be the testing ground for policies that undermine privacy and security in the digital era, or it can be a champion for human rights, leveraging its relationships to raise cybersecurity standards for the next generation. The world is watching.”

In addition to the letter delivered by experts today, thousands of concerned individuals in Australia and around the world have joined the call for members of Parliament to reject any proposal that undermines the security of tools and devices we all depend on. You can join them in taking action by signing the petition at SecureAustralia.org.au.

Download and read the Australia Encryption Coalition letter today, and tell your local MP's and the MP's recieving the letter your views on their proposed legislation.

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Media Release: Doctors, Lawyers, and Privacy Experts Denounce HealthEngine Sharing Patient Health Data With Non-GPs https://www.efa.org.au/2018/06/25/media-release-doctors-lawyers-and-privacy-experts-denounce-healthengine-sharing-patient-health-data-with-non-gps/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/06/25/media-release-doctors-lawyers-and-privacy-experts-denounce-healthengine-sharing-patient-health-data-with-non-gps/#respond Mon, 25 Jun 2018 04:46:30 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9290 Continue reading ]]> Logo of EFA, FutureWise and Australian Privacy Foundation

Australia, Melbourne — Monday 25 June 2018 — EFA, Future Wise and APF today denounced the actions of HealthEngine and its doctor appointment booking system which has been sharing patient data with law firms, marketers, and other entities with the flimsiest pretense of patient consent.

“If this ethically dubious behaviour is technically legal, then Australia’s privacy legislation must be changed,” said Justin Warren, Electronic Frontiers Australia board member.

“People have made it clear time and time again that information about their health is extremely personal and private and they expect it to be kept secure, not shared with all and sundry,” he said. “I cannot understand how any doctor would allow their patients’ trust to be abused in this way.”

Dr Trent Yarwood, health spokesperson for Future Wise and a medical specialist, said “Making access to healthcare easier for people is critical. However, practice managers and healthcare professionals must understand the privacy implications of how they do this.”

“Too many services are set up with the primary aim of selling personal data to advertisers, and providing ‘convenient’ services to people purely as a hook to get this data,” he concluded.

The original ABC report noted that “HealthEngine also has a data-sharing arrangement with the Federal Government's My Health Record (MyHR) digital medical record system.” The precise nature of this data-sharing arrangement must be made public immediately. The government is making MyHR mandatory, save for a short once-only opt-out period, and the public must know what our health data is going to be used for if we are to have confidence in this system.

Kat Lane, vice chair of Australian Privacy Foundation, said “Data in the government’s MyHR can be downloaded to a GP system and is then freely available—no controls, no audit trail—including potentially to apps such as HealthEngine, without proper informed consent. This is a warning about serious issues of transparency and consent with such apps and MyHR.”

The law must be changed to provide robust privacy protections for all Australians, such as by finally giving us the right to sue for breach of privacy, requiring explicit consent for each disclosure of medical or health data to a third party, and proper auditing of record-access that is visible to the patient. The current system is too easy to bypass for unscrupulous operators looking to make a fast buck.

Download the media release:

Doctors, Lawyers, and Privacy Experts Denounce HealthEngine Sharing Patient Health Data With Non-GPs Joint Response to HealthEngine Data Sharing

Electronic Frontiers Australia is the premier voice for digital rights in Australia. Established in 1994, EFA is independently funded by members and donations. For more information about EFA, see https://www.efa.org.au

About Future Wise

Future Wise is an independent policy and advocacy organisation, focusing on technology, health, and education; and is a strong voice for digital privacy in Australia. Further information about Future Wise is available at their website: https://futurewise.org.au

About APF

The Australian Privacy Foundation is the primary association dedicated to protecting the privacy rights of Australians. The Foundation aims to focus public attention on emerging issues which pose a threat to the freedom and privacy of Australians.
For additional information about APF see https://privacy.org.au

Media Contacts

Email: media@efa.org.au
Twitter: @efa_oz
Phone: Justin Warren - 0412 668 526

Future Wise
Email: trent@futurewise.org.au
Twitter: @FutureWiseAU
Phone: Trent Yarwood - 0403 819 234

Email: kat.lane@privacy.org.au  
Twitter: @apf_oz
Kat Lane - 0447 620 694
Email: Bernard.Robertson-Dunn@privacy.org.au
Bernard Robertson-Dunn - 0411 157 113

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Centrelink duty of care has failed, regardless of Information Commissioner ruling https://www.efa.org.au/2018/05/30/centrelink-duty-of-care-has-failed-regardless-of-information-commissioner-ruling/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/05/30/centrelink-duty-of-care-has-failed-regardless-of-information-commissioner-ruling/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 02:02:22 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9270 Continue reading ]]> Privacy rights groups Digital Rights Watch, the Australian Privacy Foundation and Electronic Frontiers Australia have slammed a statement by the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner that their investigation found no wrongdoing in the release of personal information by a government department.

In February 2017, writer Andie Fox wrote an article that was critical of Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery program. In response, the office of the former Human Services Minister Alan Tudge released Ms Fox’s personal details (including details of Fox’s relationship and her tax and claims history) to another journalist, who subsequently published an article countering Fox’s claims.

“It’s extremely concerning that the OAIC has ruled that there has been no breach of privacy here. To assume that the Australian Privacy Principles allow for release of information if a person has a ‘reasonable expectation’ is ludicrous, and tips the power way too much towards the holders of information rather than the individual,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton

The groups warned of the consequences of a government agency disclosing someone’s personal information due to unfavourable media coverage.

“Australian citizens such as Ms Fox should be able to exercise freedom of speech, particularly in relation to offering opinions and criticisms of government services, without the threat of their personal information being broadcast to the world,” said Mr Singleton Norton.

“There is concern about the appearance that the privacy regulator may have been ‘captured’ by the Canberra federal bureaucracy and politicians after the government’s thwarted 2014-15 campaign to abolish and defund it. Rather than independent and fearless protection for an individual being in effect told ‘you should have expected this smear campaign using you and your partner’s personal information, so it’s legal’, the finding appears to normalise abuse of a legitimate complainant, who now has no other remedy. Ms Fox shared her personal experience of a system we know to have been a case study in IT governance failure: she did not deserve this kind of treatment”, said Australian Privacy Foundation Chair David Vaile.

“Worryingly, this could be taken as a green light for politicians in power to dig dirt, leak and smear anyone who complains publicly about their treatment, exploiting the grossly disproportionate imbalance of power. This would be a real attack on freedom of speech, and on the right to hold government to account, as well as on privacy and data protection. This also raises questions about inconsistencies between ‘open government’ accountability policies and the ‘doxing’ of a complainant.”

“To witness such a fundamental breakdown of the right to freedom of the press is incredibly worrying,” said Electronic Frontiers Australia’s Lyndsey Jackson.

“That someone would speak out and then a Minister would order a staff member to go rifling through an individual’s personal file for ‘dirt’ and then share it with the media is clearly an act of silencing dissent.”

“Governments using the information Australians share with Centrelink, an agency people interact with at their most vulnerable point, to cover their own political agenda undermines public trust in the Privacy Act as well as trust in the OAIC having necessary autonomy.”

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Media Release: Electronic Frontiers Australia Welcomes Turnbull Government Support For Strong Encryption https://www.efa.org.au/2018/05/21/media-release-electronic-frontiers-australia-welcomes-turnbull-government-support-for-strong-encryption/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/05/21/media-release-electronic-frontiers-australia-welcomes-turnbull-government-support-for-strong-encryption/#comments Sun, 20 May 2018 23:00:59 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9256 Continue reading ]]> Electronic Frontiers Australia welcomes the recent acknowledgement by Angus Taylor during Privacy Awareness Week that strong encryption is vital for safeguarding the privacy and security of all Australians.

"Let me be clear about this, we support strong encryption for the security of information and the protection of privacy. We firmly believe that cybersecurity will be enhanced by encryption—it is a good thing," Taylor said, according to ZDNet.

While some other members of the Turnbull government have—at times—appeared to oppose the right of Australians to protect their private information with strong encryption, EFA is encouraged by Taylor’s pragmatic stance.

Strong encryption is a vital part of the modern world, and citizens depend on it to protect their finances, their private communications, and their interactions with governments at all levels. Undermining strong encryption would place citizens at risk of having their private information compromised by cyber-criminals, foreign spies, and other malicious actors.

EFA appreciates Mr Taylor taking a strong stance in supporting all Australians in keeping themselves safe by protecting the privacy and security of their information with strong encryption.

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EFA statement regarding proposals for the Australian Signals Directorate to be handed warrantless domestic spying powers https://www.efa.org.au/2018/04/30/efa-statement-regarding-proposals-for-the-australian-signals-directorate-to-be-handed-warrantless-domestic-spying-powers/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/04/30/efa-statement-regarding-proposals-for-the-australian-signals-directorate-to-be-handed-warrantless-domestic-spying-powers/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2018 11:11:12 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9237 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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EFA signs against Article 11 https://www.efa.org.au/2018/04/25/efa-signs-against-article-11/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/04/25/efa-signs-against-article-11/#respond Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:51:30 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9226 Continue reading ]]> EFA has co-signed a letter, with 50+ organisations to call on Axel Voss MEP (Member of the European Parliament) to delete Article 11. Article 11 is a proposal that wants to demand licensing fees for sharing tiny snippets of text, extracts, even headlines, from news articles. It has been criticised over and over again: it will harm access to news and information by making it costly to support small publications, and entrench the power of the largest media groups.

While this legislation is being proposed in the European parliament, it poses a dangerous precedent for all internet users. EFA has signed this letter in solidarity with its European peers.

The latest amendments to this Article, proposed by Axel Voss MEP, only make the issues worse: fees would become attached to simple facts, and Creative Commons would become impossible for news sites.

With this open letter [PDF] we encourage Axel Voss MEP and his colleagues to find an approach to Article 11 that takes into account the interests of internet users, startups, small publishers and heritage institutions - rather than the small concentration of press publishers it is solely designed to support. We remind Voss of the wealth of evidence produced by researchers who have investigated how such proposals have played out in the past, and that "many studies some of which commissioned by the EU institutions themselves, show that these rules have had a disproportionate negative impact on the news industries, and information access."

You can read the full letter here.

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Turnbull Hates your Privacy Online https://www.efa.org.au/2018/04/13/turnbull-hates-your-privacy-online/ https://www.efa.org.au/2018/04/13/turnbull-hates-your-privacy-online/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2018 03:59:44 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=9218 Continue reading ]]> We see today that the Australian government is still pushing for an encryption backdoor, and isn’t engaging with the Australian public about what they intend to do. The bill is apparently in “advanced stages” without any transparency on its impact to your privacy and security.

There are signs Labor may oppose the legislation, so all is not yet lost.

“Labor, which has typically supported the government in matters of national security, remains sceptical additional legislation of this nature is practical.”

Meanwhile the Department of Home Affairs is still building its Panopticon-like Facial Identification Service and ignoring the concerns of the Australian public. It sees concerns about letting privacy companies access the system as “overblown”.

“Home Affairs said that there should not be a warrant required in order to access the Face ID system.”

Your digital rights are being attacked by powerful and well-funded adversaries. We only stand a chance if we stand together to oppose them.

Donate now to help fund our important work. We are an entirely volunteer-run organisation, so every dollar goes towards supporting the work of the EFA.

Join us as an individual, concession or organisational member as we fight to preserve your digital rights - and tell your family and friends why they should care too!

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