Article – Greg Barnes: Human rights violations now enshrined in legislation – in Australia

Barnes writes for Michael West media

Last week, the Morrison government, supported by the ALP, passed a law that allows for security agencies, on the most flimsy of pretexts, to access and manipulate the electronic data of any citizen. It continues the slide into authoritarianism that started with the Tampa affair 20 years ago.

The “Identity and Disrupt Bill 2021” shows the dangerous capture of the body politic by Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and other agencies is today. It shows little or no regard for the right to privacy and the rule of law more broadly. And it adds to the already wide suite of powers security agencies have acquired in recent years to surveil and track us.

Here is how this law works. An AFP or ACC officer “may apply to a judge or a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal” for what is called a “data disruption warrant”. This means the officer can add, copy, delete or alter data held in the computer.

The threshold for getting such a warrant is low. All the officer needs to show is that he or she “suspects on reasonable grounds that” an offence is being, or is “likely to be” committed or has been committed, and that disruption of data held in the computer “is likely to substantially assist in frustrating the commission of offences involving that computer”.

If that is not troubling enough, there is power for the officer to seek the immediate issue of the warrant, if it is “impracticable” for them to prepare an affidavit setting out the basis for seeking the warrant. The affidavit does not have to be filed until 3 days later. And they can get the warrant by “telephone, fax, email or any other means of communication.”

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Human rights violations now enshrined in legislation – in Australia