Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Australians Awake! Big Brother is Watching You

From Crikey's Daily Email.

This kind of stuff is very disturbing and more in tune with Bush's Department of Homeland Security than Australia, but apparently not. More amazing is that it is being spearheaded by Howardistas.

The government is proposing a dramatic extension of snooping powers of employers as part of an ongoing co-option of the private sector into the national security state framework.

In particular, the protection of "critical infrastructure" has allowed the development of a complex and highly-rewarding partnership between governments and the private sector.

The private sector, across areas such as transport, communications, IT and energy, is a willing participant in the process of establishing a system for monitoring and protecting their facilities and the public infrastructure they use, all in the name of preventing or effectively responding to terrorism.

After all, the process allows companies access to government funding for the maintenance and upgrading of monitoring and information-collection systems they would otherwise have to invest in themselves, enables – in the name of greater security – the development of new regulatory requirements that raise the barriers to entry for possible competitors, and transfers an element of operational risk to taxpayers.

In return, governments get compliant supporters of the absurdity of the national security state – the state that requires us to suspend our critical faculties and accept long screening queues at airports, security agents who abduct people and gaol sentences for making a joke about bombs in the wrong place.

The test for any of these national security proposals should always be what might be christened the Haneef Test: would you trust the clowns who bungled that investigation, either through malice or incompetence, with even greater powers than they already have? And in this case, even if you trusted the judgement of the Australian Federal Police or ASIO, would you trust employers with the power to monitor your communications?

Now I am realistic enough to know that our computer management people can log on and see what I am doing at any time. Good luck with those boring emails guys. That said, it appears very sinister from my cynical viewpoint. What are we really scared of here. Or is the Australian Government doing what George and his buddies did to scare the bejezus out of most Americans and ram through some of the most insidious civil rights violations on their citizens and citizens of many other countries. Ugly stuff.

And what does this mean in practice? Really stupid stuff like this as described by a Crikey commenter.

My Australian born niece lives and works in the UK and in 2007 married a UK national. They recently returned home and my niece thought it an opportune time to change her Australian passport to her married name. She was informed that this is not possible as Australia no longer recognises marriages contracted by its citizens outside of Australia for security reasons. When she offered to have a second marriage in Australia she was informed that would be illegal as she was already married. However, she could have an Australian passport if she changed her name by deed poll. She asked if she if she changed her name to Mickey Mouse by deed poll would she get a passport. Silence!

Hello Australia. Your civil rights are being dramatically eroded and it is not Philip the Ghoul Haddock who is running the show. It is your friendly Labor snoops. Don't let your friends or relatives become the next Dr Haneef.


Philip the Ghoul said...

Your most helpful commentary on our public/private partnership has been duly noted and stored in our database, along with your URL, name, and ID number.

Grace said...

That's strange. I recently returned to Australia from the UK and successfully changed my passport to reflect my married name.

There was no refusal and nothing mentioned about security. In fact, I received my new passport eight days later. Great service to boot!

The Tin Drummer said...

Huh, so it's not just the UK then. I suppose I feel a little less envious of Australia now, though a little more worried that the disease of mistrust and so-called accountability is spreading throughout the "free" world.

Alex Wilson said...

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