Story image

Australia facing "systematic and wilful degradation of human rights online"

15 May 18

Digital Rights Watch believes Australians’ human rights are being ‘severely breached’ through the actions of private organisations and governments operating in the online space.

The national charity group released its State of Digital Rights report this week, which says that organisations are exploiting online data in a number of ways, including metadata retention, copyright laws, commercial espionage, facial recognition, and intelligence sharing.

"We know that public attitudes are shifting - 67% of Australians take active steps to protect their privacy online, and 79% consider government retention of information about phone calls to be a privacy breach. What is needed is legislative reform to match public sentiment,” comments Digital Rights Watch chair Tim Singleton Norton.

He says that revelations from Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal have contributed to a heightened awareness about digital rights – but they are only scratching the surface of “a much wider, systematic and wilful degradation of our human rights online,” he says.

“Digital rights are inherent human rights. And just as other human rights are far from inalienable, digital rights must be fought for, solidified into social normality and ultimately protected and upheld if we are to maintain our humanity in digital spaces.”

The report makes key recommendations as follows.

  • Repeal of the mandatory metadata retention scheme
  • Introduction of a Commonwealth statutory civil cause of action for serious invasions of privacy
  • A complete cessation of commercial espionage conducted by the Australian Signals Directorate
  • Changes to copyright laws so they are flexible, transparent and provide due process to users
  • Support for nation states to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in the digital age

Former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, says that as government attempts to control the digital world, there is inevitable tension between two fundamental human rights: fair access to the internet, and personal rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

“It is timely that we should assess the validity of new laws regulating data by benchmarking them against Australia’s human rights obligations, particularly under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” she notes.

“This is a growing and developing area and getting it right will involve long term dialogue between government, corporations and civil society. This report aims to support that conversation by providing the detailed research, analysis and recommendations that are necessary to effectively maintain human rights in an online world,” adds Singleton Norton.

“We call upon the Australian Government to implement the recommendations within this report,” he concludes.

McAfee named Leader in Magic Quadrant an eighth time
The company has been once again named as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Information and Event Management.
Symantec and Fortinet partner for integration
The partnership will deliver essential security controls across endpoint, network, and cloud environments.
Is Supermicro innocent? 3rd party test finds no malicious hardware
One of the larger scandals within IT circles took place this year with Bloomberg firing shots at Supermicro - now Supermicro is firing back.
IoT and real-time visibility: The future of intelligent enterprise
"Given the enormous potential of IoT, any companies that don’t act will risk falling behind."
O-RAN Alliance and Linux to create an open source software community
“Our joint efforts will help accelerate the creation, integration, and deployment of open source in RAN.”
MulteFire announces industrial IoT network specification
The specification aims to deliver robust wireless network capabilities for Industrial IoT and enterprises.
Google Cloud, Palo Alto Networks extend partnership
Google Cloud and Palo Alto Networks have extended their partnership to include more security features and customer support for all major public clouds.
How Adobe aims to drive digital transformation for financial services
Digital transformation is a requirement for ongoing competitiveness that clearly helps businesses run more efficiently.