The Australian government are to sign in new laws to access private data, and are considering the requirement of IDs to access social media.
Reclaim The Net reports that once the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2021 is signed into law, Australian authorities will have three new powers. These will be used by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Federal Police (AFP).
The powers are designed to give the agencies the powers of “data disruption,” “network activity warrants,” and “account takeover warrants.”
Data disruption is specifically to “authorize the disruption of data held in computers; and […] are likely to substantially assist in frustrating the commission of relevant offences.” This is to prevent “continuation of criminal activity by participants, and be the safest and most expedient option where those participants are in unknown locations or acting under anonymous or false identities”
The network activity warrant means that a suspects network can be monitored, while the takeover warrant means the authorities can take full control of the account to gather more information for their investigation.
The bill has been reportedly criticized for breach of privacy against political activists, children, and “everyone.” While alterations had been made in the bill to protect journalists, critics felt it was not good enough.
In addition, the Australian federal government is reportedly considering that users would have to provide ID to use social media and dating websites [1, 2]; much like how China does for any form of internet access.
Prospective internet users would need to submit identification such as a passport or driver’s licence (adding up to 100 points of identification) before setting up accounts, much like they would for a mobile phone account or buying a SIM card. This is intended to prevent online harassment, stalking, and sexual abuse. The report is also calling for a “substantial increase” in penalties and fines.
Tensions are already high with lockdown orders in Australia, being critisized for being brutally enforced [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. The fact police at a western Sydney station held an LGBTQIA awareness party in violation of lockdown only made matters worse.
As The Atlantic reports other restrictions have included banning international travel, and South Australia testing an app. This app uses facial recognition and geolocation so that the state “will text them at random times, and thereafter they will have 15 minutes to take a picture of their face in the location where they are supposed to be. Should they fail, the local police department will be sent to follow up in person.”
One group of Victoria Police were recorded allegedly saying they would “trump-up charges“ against a man who they believed was too far from his home. Could these new online laws cause more outcry?
In earlier news, Microsoft’s Xbox brand has encouraged fans and gamers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and rejecting allegations against its safety.
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