The National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2014, containing anti-terrorism laws, is expected to pass the Senate this week. These changes will give Australia’s security agency ASIO the power to monitor and conduct surveillance on any person’s internet activity.
Attorney-General George Brandis has labelled the legislation as “urgent”. There have only been two senators stating their opposition to the bill, with the bill receiving the support of both Labor and the Palmer United Party (PUP).
The legislation will change which information ASIO can access under a computer warrant. ASIO would be able to use just one warrant to access an unlimited number of devices on a network, and experts are warning that the whole internet could be monitored under just one warrant.
Greg Burns of the Australian Lawyers Association, said the new laws will allow ASIO to monitor the activity of “anyone, anytime, anywhere” and that there are “few, if any, limits now”.
If you are using the internet from your computer, tablet or smartphone, chances are that someone is already tracking you online. Whether you are being tracked in the form of Google, recording every step you take and the location your phone travels, or your anti-virus scanner recording every website it checked for malware before allowing you to visit, there will always be a program capable of tracking you.
As with anything in life, there are always precautions you can take, settings you can turn off and even software you can buy to increase your online privacy, but will it even matter once the new laws pass? Only if you have something to hide.
The simple fact of the matter is that the only people who need to worry about the powers being given to ASIO through these legislation changes are those breaking the law, and those planning to break the law. While we all have a right to some form of privacy, we also have the right to feel safe walking the streets and that feeling has been eroded over the past week.
The new legislation certainly isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. One of the worrying components of the bill is that it will be made an offence to “advocate terrorism”, including on social media. Looking further into the definition of terrorism, “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”, suggests that almost any political statement or opinion could be classified under the new law changes and they will be open to interpretation.
What do you think? Are these new laws necessary to secure the safety of all Australians? Or do they go too far towards invading our right to privacy and due process?