sb-eu logo
Story image

AU Govt warned to take hard look in mirror after UK 'Snooper's Charter' ruled illegal

01 Feb 2018

Australian watchdogs Digital Rights Watch say the Australian Government need to learn a thing or two from the United Kingdom and take a serious look at its own mandatory metadata retention scheme.

This week the UK Court of Appeal ruled that surveillance under the UK Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, also known as the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, was illegal.

That surveillance included both mass and targeted access to personal communications data. Under the law, internet and phone data could be accessed without review by independent authorities and in situations that did not necessarily pertain to fighting ‘serious’ crime.

Telecommunications providers were also required to provide access and remove protections when asked.

The legal challenge was led by UK Labour MP Tom Watson and civil rights group Liberty. Closer to home, Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton says this ruling is a wakeup for Australia’s own government.

“The Australian Government should heed this as a massive warning about their own mandatory metadata retention scheme, specifically on current plans to weaken encryption and seek ‘back door’ access to encrypted services,” he says.

“This is a very clear ruling that the UK Government has been breaking the law by collecting its own citizens’ phone and internet activity and allowing agencies to utilise these details without appropriate oversight.”

Because Australia has followed the UK’s law as an example, the ruling may have far-reaching effects for both countries.

“It’s possible that this ruling could have immediate impacts on Australia’s involvement in information-sharing arrangements under the ‘Five Eyes’ partnership, which sees data pooled and shared across borders including within the UK,” Singleton Norton continues.

He believes that Australia stands out as a country that is out of step with other countries’ approaches to rights and accountability for surveillance use.

We stand out, but not in a good way.Our Government seem convinced that warrantless mass surveillance is an inevitability within the developed world, but fail to realise that human rights are often inconsistent with this huge overreach into the private and personal lives of individuals.”

Singleton Norton says that lawmakers around the world should reflect on the UK ruling and the precedent that is being set by the changes.

“Attempts to introduce warrantless mass surveillance regimes are increasingly being invalidated on human rights grounds. It is time we came together as a global community to agree on what is appropriate State behaviour in cyberspace, and start the process towards a global treaty to protect individual privacy online,” he concludes.

Story image
How security awareness training can safeguard companies from cyber-attacks
Training goes a long way in embedding a culture of cybersecurity compliance within the company.More
Story image
Cryptomining trojan malware discovered by ESET researchers
The malware, primarily targeting victims in Czechia and Slovakia, prioritises subterfuge through deployment of multiple techniques to avoid detection, and leans heavily on the Tor network and BitTorrent protocol to achieve its goals.More
Story image
Proofpoint launches new SMB focused security awareness training
Proofpoint has launched security awareness training for small to medium businesses (SMBs) with the aim of reducing successful phishing attacks and malware infections to almost zero. More
Story image
Shlayer malware proves Apple devices aren't as secure as you think
"Apple never talks about malware publicly, and loves to give the impression that its systems are secure. Unfortunately, the opposite has been proven to be the case with great regularity."More
Story image
Revealed: The behaviours exhibited by the most effective CISOs
As cyber-threats pile up, more is being asked of CISOs - and according to Gartner, only a precious few are 'excelling' by the standards of their CISO Effectiveness Index.More
Story image
Misinformation on the rise, organisations consider how best to respond
The increase in misinformation and fake domains have left organisations perceiving the threat level to be ‘very significant’, with a third planning greater emphasis on their ability to respond in coming months.More