Monday, 14 April 2008

Email spy powers 'a licence for witch hunts'

Employers would be able to read their staff's emails under proposed new national security laws being considered by the Federal Government.

The new laws would give companies extra powers to monitor their computer networks to prevent cyber-attacks.

They would be allowed to check their staff's emails and internet communications without their consent.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the proposed changes would step up national security of Australia's computer networks.

"We want to make sure that they are safe from terrorist attack," she said.

"Part of doing that is making sure we've got the right powers to ensure that we can tell if there's something unusual going on in the system.

"So it's a national security move, not a move about an unseemly interest in people's private emails."

A spokesman for the Attorney-General says cyber-threats are growing and that privacy experts and unions will be consulted about the proposed laws.

Dale Clapperton, from the internet-rights watchdog Electronic Frontiers Australia, says it is an over-reaction.

"Our concern is, that if given these powers, they're more likely to be used for eavesdropping and corporate witch hunts rather than protecting Australia from some kind of cyber attack."

The head of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties, Terry O'Gorman, says tighter laws to protect Australia against cyber terrorism threats are not needed.

Mr O'Gorman says the existing legal framework provides enough protection against terrorism.

"We have passed so many laws in the name of fighting terrorism that we're at ... serious risk of losing the balance between giving the intelligence services sufficient powers to fight terrorism while at the same time keeping longstanding and cherished civil liberties," he said.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis says he is concerned about giving companies the power "to act in effect as a quasi-law enforcement or investigative authority."

Quote: This is definitely a move about an unseemly interest in people's private emails. Any person who wants to look at another persons mail is invading that persons personal privacy. Any law that intends to give another person that right is draconian and an invasion of that persons privacy. Shame on you Gillard.

Push for overhaul of laws on terrorism
[However anti-terrorism laws are just 'state sanctioned terrorism' aimed at 'innocent people' and using them as 'scapegoats' for Australia's 'alleged war on terror'. These laws were meant to project 'fear' in the community that we somehow need to be protected so that the government can wage war on innocent people for resources around the world unchallenged.]

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