The Australian Greens and the Pirate Party have received the highest rating in an assessment of digital rights policies by a privacy advocacy group.
The analysis was conducted by Digital Rights Watch and as well as the Greens included the policies of the Liberal, Labor, Liberal Democrat, One Nation, Centre Alliance, One Nation and the United Australia parties. (Only Labor, the Greens and Liberal Democrats responded to a DRW survey employed for the analysis. The ranking was also based on public comments by party representatives as well as voting patterns.)
The Greens and Pirate Party topped the DRW scorecard, while the Liberal Party and One Nation were at the bottom. Labor and the United Australia Party also scored poorly.
DRW analysed policies across four broad areas: Support for encryption, privacy (including data retention), copyright, and government data (which included a variety of areas such as support for an opt-out approach to the national eHealth record system, opposition to Centrelink’s ‘robodebt’ program, and expanding Australia’s freedom of information regime to encompass spy agencies).
Digital Rights Watch chair Tim Singleton Norton said that in recent years both Labor and the Liberal Party had supported “a slew of legislation and policies that drastically undermine Australians’ human rights online.”
“This includes unwarranted access to metadata, rapid expansion of facial recognition software, the rollout of My Health Record without social licence and passing new legislation that gives law enforcement agencies far-reaching powers to intercept encrypted communications,” the DRW chair said in a statement.
“We need strong digital rights to protect Australian internet users and democracy in our country. Without these in place, we have already seen governments abuse powers and trample on human rights, most recently witnessed amidst the Centrelink robodebt saga.”
Last year a controversial bill intended to help police better intercept online communications received bipartisan support. The so-called ‘encryption’ legislation has been condemned by privacy groups and the tech industry. In March, shadow digital economy minister Ed Husic said that, if elected, Labor intended to introduce legislation to “fix these terrible laws”.
Updated to reflect that the Pirate Party also received top marks in the DRW scorecard.