Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has assured Australians that national facial biometric matching capability would “only bring existing arrangements into real time”, after the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a suite of new ‘anti-terrorism’ measures yesterday.
As the mainstream establishment continues to dismiss privacy concerns of advocates across the country, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman seemingly showed no reserve in support of the overhaul, declaring “we live in very uncertain times” and “this is the new world order”.
In 2014, following a number of ‘foiled beheading plots’ in Australia, Attorney-General George Brandis and parliament unanimously passed what is known globally as the ‘triple terror’: three individual pieces of ‘anti-terrorism’ amendments to existing legislation introduced by the Howard government after 9/11.
We extensively covered the process and draconian legislative changes in our piece, The Fall of Australia: An overview of new ‘anti-terrorism legislation. Some of the existing measures currently available to the government and police include (among many others):
- ASIO to monitor the entire Australian internet with a single warrant.
- ‘Special Intelligence Operations’: exempt from civil and criminal liability.
- Five-year penalties for journalists and whistleblowers of SIOs.
- The introduction of terms like the offence of ‘advocating terrorism’.
- New measures to obtain control and contain orders.
- A “12-hour curfew” period, forcing people to stay in a location for a maximum of 12 hours in every 24 hours.
- Mandatory data retention scheme for 2 years.
This weekend, following a mass-shooting in Las Vegas, it was rumoured (and later confirmed) that the Australian government would use the opportunity to further push an even tougher overhaul of the legislation, including discussions on national facial recognition capabilities at a COAG meeting in Canberra on Thursday.
In the meeting, state leaders and ministers unanimously approved a counter-terrorism package that “enhances” public safety by increasing surveillance of private citizens and removes longstanding rights for those suspected of terrorist involvement.
This will include all states and territories handing over driver’s licenses and passport photos for a national identification database, allowing for real-time facial recognition when matched to state CCTV footage, bypassing current state restrictions and laws on obtaining such information.
Other changes will also entail an expansion of existing ‘preemptive detention orders’, allowing for up to 14 days detention without charge, and to make it a criminal offence to ‘launch a terror attack hoax’ or ‘to possess material on how to undertake a terror attack’.
Privacy advocates including the Australian Privacy Foundation, Digital Rights Watch, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, as well as the Greens, all criticised the proposal as an erosion of civil liberties.
Mr Turnbull has dismissed suggestions the database could lead to a mass surveillance of citizens, stating the licence photos will ‘complement’ the country’s existing database of passport photos.
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
As the national debate between privacy advocate groups and government officials continues following the announcement, one state leader has gone a step further with his support for the program, seemingly showing no reserve when declaring that we are entering the age of the new world order.
In an interview with state media yesterday, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman had this to say about the proposed overhaul and security concerns:
“That will not only ensure greater security measures are in place at a national level but it will also assist local jurisdictions in law enforcement, in preventing crime and keeping our local communities safe.
There is no doubt that we live in very uncertain times and this is the new world order.
We have to adapt and we need to ensure that our nation’s law enforcement agencies and governments are ahead of the game and that includes on occasions needing to put privacy concerns alongside protecting our communities.
When it comes to that choice, it’s the latter that Tasmania, and I think the nation, should choose.”
Indeed, many Australians feel the Premier’s words confirm privacy concerns associated with the overhaul, as it seems more prevalent with each passing day that Australia is heading towards a dystopic vision for society only paralleled in China and Russia.
The trade-off between freedom and ‘security’ has always been the ‘other danger’ in Western liberalism’s fight against religious violence in this age of mass alarm, with Tony Abbott famously stating in 2014 that ‘the balance between freedom and security will have to shift‘.
From control of the media tightening, education continued to be infiltrated and distorted, and key topics such as vaccination and biometric identification technology slowly creeping towards tyranny, Australia is now changing, and more than ever we need an informed public to stop these moves before they are introduced.
Stay tuned for our feature piece this week for more details on Australia’s push towards globalism: Australia – Testing ground for the New World Order.
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Malcolm Turnbull does deal with states on facial recognition, dismisses concerns: smh.com.au
Remember WMD? Just labeling something ‘terrorism’ isn’t enough: crickey.com.au
Leaked agenda reveals Turnbull’s plans for new counter-terrorism offenses: smh.com.au
National Facial Recognition: Towards the Panopticon: http://efa.do/8v45
Queensland announces trials to replace public transport cards with facial recognition: tottnews.com
Facial recognition to replace passports in radical security overhaul at Australian airports: tottnews.com
Commonwealth Games – QLD Privacy Commissioner slams facial recognition plans as ‘unprecedented’: tottnews.com
Australian schools are now implementing biometric identification technology: tottnews.com
Erosion of Privacy in Australia – Basic facts you need to know: tottnews.com
National security laws ‘strike at the heart of press freedom’: theguardian.com
Analysing Mass Media – Fear and Manipulation: tottnews.com