Australian anti-terrorist surveillance laws

Since 9/11/2001, terror attacks, the approach to global threats has significantly transformed, from a once passive response based on race/land/power, to a pre-emptive approach based on disproportionate powers within different government bodies, with an apparent goal of upholding democratic rights and security (Head & Man, 2009). The extracts provided, offer different perspectives on the threat of terrorism, and whether the implementation of surveillance laws are indeed indispensable to uphold the.

Extract 1, which originates from Mike Head’s (2012) “ Australian government proposes sweeping Internet surveillance” suggests a contradiction to the proposition made by the labour government, and questions the extent the government is willing to declare these laws being implemented in the name of protecting national security. The second extract (2), from the Attorney-general’s department (2012) “ Equipping Australia against emerging and evolving threats” explains why such strict surveillance laws, due to (technology advancement/ terrorism threats), are dire to the protection and welfare of the Australian population.

Both extracts have a purpose to convince the audience as to why surveillance laws are a breach of power, privacy and control, or required for our own security. Throughout extract 1, Mike Head (2012) presents the idea that the Labour government is pushing for “unprecedented powers” to intercept all Internet communication calls, in a similar line to the US and Europe.

He continues by explaining that the current taping of phones would be extended to VOIP (Skype), and that not handing over passwords would be seen as an offence (Head, M, 2012). Mike points out the acts “terrorism act”, comprises of a number of these attributes, such as phone taping and spying, thus there is no justification in expanding powers and the expansion of monetary funds to government agencies that are essentially already in tact.

In addition, he draws attention, not only to the inconsistencies of the proposed reform, but specifically to the fact, that the proposition is a form of control, giving ultimate powers, to police, and government agencies such as ASIO (the spying powers, which the government has camouflaged under the interceptions act (wikileaks amendment), which extends the provisions of spying agencies, in the ultimate name of combating the “ war on terror” (Head, M, 2012) – arguing that the government has already entrenched police state style powers, which already serves its purpose, and begs to question, how much control is too much control, and when will the government stop obscuring their agenda’s in the name of the “peoples well being”. He continues by stating that only a vague definition of the likely corrective laws are given, which could in turn apply in a broad manner, thus prosecuting and breaching the basic human rights of, freedom of speech, freedom to privacy, and hinder work rights, i. e. investigative journalism. From a social liberal perspective (Head, M & Mann, S, 2009), the implementation of the proposed reforms means that ‘civil liberties’, or basic human rights to privacy will be breached.

Additionally it indicates that there will be inequity in terms of control and thus a suppression of distributive justice (Head, M & Mann, S 2009), and a breach to the human rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). In accordance to 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which specifically protected territorial and communications privacy, ‘Article 12’ states, under “Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” “No-one should be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks on his honour or reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interferences or attacks”.

These proposed reforms, in turn diminish and disregard for international treaty laws. In contrast, extract 2 from the attorney- general department asserts that there is an immediate need of the reform, due to everyday imminent threats with the growth of not only Australia as a country, but also of technology as a whole (Attorney generals department, 2012). In the extract, the proposed reform they introduce is as follows; four key pieces of legislation would be altered, that is the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, the Telecommunications Act 1997, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, and the Intelligence Services Act 2001(Attorney generals department, 2012).

In addition the general attorneys department assert that terrorism, espionage and Internet crime gangs will have the upper hand in the absence of any actions (Attorney generals department, 2012). Furthermore they state that the security and resilience of such economic and social infrastructure, insists on greater security, and it can only be done by equipping our “law enforcement and “security agencies” with greater ‘capabilities and powers’ (Attorney generals department, 2012). Additional assertions are made, claiming that Australian data is in threat, and considerations should be made as to how data should be carried and stored. Thus from a ‘utilitarian’ (Head, M & Mann, S, 2009), perspective, the Australian government believe that they are justifiably acting in the interest of the people, society and the economy.

They state through implementing these changes, and installing police and government agencies with more capabilities and power, and through the retention of data, and surveillance, they are protecting the liberties, security and privacy of ‘all’ Australian citizens from such things as terrorism, espionage and criminal cyber threats (), thus indicating the greatest happiness (security) is maximised, for the greater good of the Australian population as a whole. There are fallacies that can be found within the arguments (Mike head, 2005) (extract 1) makes. (Head, M & Mann, S, 2009), states that the Gillard government is aware of the destabilizing of the GFC and the potential for major struggles by workers and young people, he then continues by introducing a whole new topic, retracting attention from the first statement that had no evidential data or sources, even though it may be true. This form of fallacy is known as the red herring.

Additionally the statements made in regards to the GFC still having occurring ramifications on the Australian economy, do have premise, however in accordance to the IMF (SMH, 2012), Australia’s economy is one of the strongest. Moreover the insinuation that the Gillard government is depriving Australians of work, or welfare, due to proposing an injection of cash into this reform again begs to question. Similarly there are a number of fallacies that can be found within extract 2. The “slippery slope” fallacy is one of the most prominent throughout this extract”. This fallacy comprises when the conclusion of an argument rests upon the chain reaction, and there is not sufficient reason to think that the chain reaction will actually take place (Head, M & Mann, S, 2009).

A specific statement made ‘Attorney Generals Department’, states “ the absence of action, significant intelligence and evidence collection capabilities will be lost providing criminal elements with a technological upper hand”. The assumed correlation is not ample enough to demonstrate a chain reaction, for example, if these proposed laws are not put in action, there is no irrefutable proof that insists that intelligence and evidence capabilities will be lost, which in turn will put all Australian citizens under threat. These assumptions undermine the ‘terrorism legislation’, which is already imposed to act as a security measure to all Australians.