Category: Privacy

Are police watching your Facebook, looking at your private health records, banking details, and email addresses? Are they modifying or copying your data and posts without your knowledge, or forcing you to hack others on their behalf? If they didn't have the power to before, they do now.
Confidential communications between lawyers and their clients are sacrosanct. They are subject to legal professional privilege, which means they cannot be disclosed by anyone – including the lawyer – to anyone else - including the government, the courts, the police, or anyone at all - without the client’s express authorisation. That principle has been around for about 500 years, and remains a fundamental tenant of our legal system. But it has, at times, been sorely tested.
The latest Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, serves up a thought-provoking critique of the unethical and largely unregulated tactics employed by social media platforms, namely surveillance capitalism and data mining, in order to exploit users for commercial benefit. The doco’s director, Jeff Orlowski, seeks to draw a causal link between the rise of these tactics in the 2010’s and broader social, political and economic concerns such as mental health issues, the spread of misinformation/conspiracy theories, and election tampering.
Last week was Privacy Awareness Week, which is a curious irony, given the current dilemma faced by millions of Australians – to download or not to download the Federal government's CovidSafe App.
Don’t you sometimes miss the good, old-fashioned Moral High Ground? As a post-war baby, the world I was born into seemed a brave and righteous one. Our fathers had just fought and died to free us all from fascism and oppression. The world had paid a terrible price, but it was all worth it.  In the end we won, and the Bad Guys lost.
The sad reality of the uncertain times in which we live is that any major public event will inevitably carry an increased security threat, and a corresponding call for heightened security protocols and broader police powers. In the case of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Queensland Parliament has answered that call by arming police with extraordinary and quite intrusive powers to stop, detain and search people and vehicles without warrant or even reasonable suspicion, use sniffer dogs, metal detectors, Backscatter x-ray vans and other investigative technologies, and randomly enter and search private property at will.
The threat last week by One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts to report Fairfax Media journalists to police for stalking, raises some interesting questions. Last Thursday the Senator’s senior media adviser, Sean Black, threatened to complain to police about what he called "continued pestering" and "harassment". His claims followed allegedly persistent emails from journalists seeking answers from Senator Roberts about renunciation of his UK citizenship, in the context of the broader dual nationality debate. Mr Black reportedly told Fairfax Media to "stop the harassment" and warned that further “pestering or harassment” would be referred to the Queensland Police Service for prosecution.
There’s a common misconception in some circles that only criminals, miscreants and ne’er-do-wells attract the attention of investigators like Federal and State police, corporate and other regulatory watchdogs, the tax man and the like. Most of us blithely go through life believing if we always try to act honestly and honourably there is no risk we will ever be targeted. Unfortunately, it’s just not true.
We live in an everchanging world. Early in 2016, it was announced by the British government that a statue of the renowned English novelist, essayist and critic George Orwell, commissioned by sculptor and artist Martin Jennings, will be installed outside the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation in London. It will bear the inscription of Orwell’s oft-quoted words “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Remember that awesome pub-crawl you went on in first year uni, the one organised by your student social association, where you started on shooters, then learned how to play beer pong, the whole hilarious process captured on your mobile phones, got absolutely legless, and ended up dancing on the tables? Those were the days, right? Well the good news is, now you’re all grown up and considering applying for pre-selection in conservative politics, you can still revisit those good old days any time you want. The bad news is, so can everyone else. All they have to do is Google “beer pong,” and there you are, pitching ping-pong balls, belting back beers and head-bopping with the band.
With the currently almost endemic proliferation in Australian society of audio- and video-recording mobile phones, and the recent announcement by CASA of the relaxation of laws and regulations around the use of surveillance drones in Australian airspace, perhaps it’s time we all sat down to have a good hard rethink about some of our rules around privacy in this country.
In Australia we have some of the strictest telemarketing laws in the world and we need to. I’m sure everyone who reads this blog has received a telemarketing call at some stage or another from someone in India, the Philippines or even South Africa.