On March 19th, 2015 Australia’s Parliament’s House of Representatives passed the recently amended Data Retention Bill. The newly passed bill forces Australian internet service providers to collect and store metadata from their customers and allow police warrantless access to the internet browsing history of all Australians. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised the new bill and the politicians that worked to pass the bill in Parliament by saying, “The Australian Federal Police advised me that 90 percent of counter-terrorism investigations involve the use of metadata, as do some 90 percent of child abuse investigations. I want to thank the chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security…the Ministers and Shadow Minister involved but we can’t stop there. We must always be acting to keep our country safe.” It appears that the Australian government will continue to pass new legislation that infringes on citizens’ privacy for the sake of national security.
“Data Retention Bill Passes Aussie House of Reps,” Gizmodo Australia, March 19, 2015.
Student Researcher: Jack Macharyas, Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
The blatant disregard of Australian citizens’ privacy raises some questions as to where the government will stop. Will the Australian government continue to pass similar bills that infringe on their people’s privacy? Will other countries follow suit and attempt to pass these type of bills that allegedly promote national security, but disregard people’s privacy?
Governments before have used the threat of national security to pass legislation that imposes on people’s privacy. Britain’s government has used the national security excuse to install thousands of CCTV security cameras all around the country. The Excuse of national security has been used for many years to disregard people’s rights and achieve power. America’s government detained Japanese citizens after Pearl Harbor to protect national security; America detained communists during the Cold War because they were a threat to national security. More recently the American government has been using 9/11 as an excuse to take away and control many aspects of their citizens’ rights.
Is it ethical for various governments to take away citizens’ privacy for the sake of national security? Governments have been using citizens’ fear of terrorist attacks and other crimes to promote such bills that give them more power. In their quest for more power and control these governments will stop at nothing to achieve it. Fear mongering to achieve what they want has become common practice for many national leaders.
Is it even ethical for a government to meddle with the internet, something that is meant to be worldwide and free? The state of the internet and government influence on it has been the subject of many recent debates. Governments’ attempts to regulate and control the internet have been met with fierce opposition from citizens. The recent SOPA and PIPA acts have been shot down by the American people only to be reinstated in other bills. In the end, no matter how much citizens have disagreed, the government has managed to sneak such acts through.
Sacrificing people’s rights to obtain more power as well as using fear to further their control is morally and ethically wrong. But national governments will continue to use the tactics of fear to promote their agenda, and they will not stop anytime soon, unless the people stand up to it. It will only stop when people realize that the government is manipulating them in order to achieve more control over them. It’s troubling to think that our people and people from other countries have been used by their government in order to control more aspects of their life, and that we voted for these people to represent our best interests when they’re really in it for their best interests.