Greens push for greater protection of digital rights

Unveil plan for a Digital Rights Commissioner

The Greens will push for a Digital Rights Commissioner to be added to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the party said today.

The commissioner would “scrutinise government legislation, policy, proposals and procedures, and to advise governments, private sector organisations and individuals on the impacts on the privacy, safety, security and accessibility of the internet for Australians,” states the policy.

"It's not just data retention, or the new facial recognition capability,” Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said in a statement.

“It's not just privacy that is under attack; the government and opposition have shown startling illiteracy around issues such as encryption, which millions of Australians rely on for their banking and secure communication.

“An independent advocate will help address vulnerability to online fraud and theft, well before ill-considered proposals become law.”

The new commissioner would not replace any of the existing positions at the HRC. The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates the policy would cost $1.3 million over the forward estimates.

The policy document cites as examples of threats to digital rights the government’s mandatory data retention regime; threats to the use of encryption; Internet filtering (including Australia’s two website blocking regimes); and Australia’s participation in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangement.

Much of the related legislation, such as the data retention bill, has received bipartisan support from the Coalition and Labor with parliamentary opposition only coming from the Greens and a selection of crossbenchers.

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