Friday, September 26, 2014

The panopticon advances in Australia

While we've been having an election, the Australian government has been turning itself into a panopticon:

Australian spies will soon have the power to monitor the entire Australian internet with just one warrant, and journalists and whistleblowers will face up to 10 years' jail for disclosing classified information.

The government's first tranche of tougher anti-terrorism bills, which will beef up the powers of the domestic spy agency ASIO, passed the Senate by 44 votes to 12 on Thursday night with bipartisan support from Labor.

The bill, the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014, will now be sent to the House of Representatives, where passage is all but guaranteed on Tuesday at the earliest.

Anyone - including journalists, whistleblowers and bloggers - who "recklessly" discloses "information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation" faces up to 10 years' jail.

Any operation can be declared "special" by an authorised ASIO officer

This also gives ASIO immunity for criminal and civil liability in certain circumstances.

Which means that all those legal limits on spying in practice mean nothing, because any authorised ASIO officer can declare their operation immune from the law. Australians, do you feel safer now?

Naturally, this is all being driven by the current terrorism scare. But Australia doesn't have terrorists because of a lack of surveillance, it has terrorists because it chooses to radicalise its population with racism, oppression, and participation in unjust American wars. If Australia treated Muslims as citizens rather than terrorists, they wouldn't have a pool of people ready to be radicalised. And if they weren't so eager to jump on board every time the US wanted to bomb some kids in the Middle East, young Australian Muslims wouldn't view their own government as a co-conspirator in the murder of civilians.

This isn't rocket science. We've seen oppression and atrocity serve as recruitment tools again and again and again over the last decade. And still our governments don't learn, preferring to destroy our freedom rather than saving it.

(And once again, I'm very glad of our more tolerant society and our reluctance to participate in US wars, otherwise we'd have this problem here. Though I'm sure National will do its best to mess that up too...)