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Monday, January 20, 2014

US 'hand on heart' intentions regarding surveillance leave Australia trailing, again

President Obama's speech regarding the NSA and associated surveillance reforms hasn't gone as far as many would want. Stilgherrian's take seems close to the money.

But in his speech President Obama at least paid lip service, maybe more, to the importance of some reforms and the need for a degree more transparency regarding privacy intrusive practices.

The speech includes an attempt at reassurance for those at home ("I’m confident that we can shape an approach that meets our security needs while upholding the civil liberties of every American") and abroad ("I have taken the unprecedented step of extending certain protections that we have for the American people to people overseas.."), and for some foreign leaders ("unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies"), while putting 'big data' and privacy firmly on the agenda for comprehensive review including examination of whether "we can forge international norms" on how to manage data and promote the free flow of information in ways that are consistent with both privacy and security."

I may have missed it but I haven't heard a word from our leaders on revelations about the collection and sharing abroad of our metadata; the Prime Minister was sorry for the embarrassment caused by reports about tapping the phone of the wife of President Yudhoyono but that's all and President Yudhoyono now reveals he felt betrayed; and we have tried to let bugging the cabinet room in Timor Leste and the seizure of documents held by a Canberra solicitor go through to the keeper or at least to the International Court of Justice, while it remains is big news there and in Jakarta

On "big data", while it is a subject of interest and concern to the OAIC, according to this search the words are yet to be uttered together in Parliament, let alone in the context of privacy.  

The Greens Senator Ludlam, with support from Labor (but not the Government), succeeded in December before Parliament packed up for the year in moving for an inquiry by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee that might touch on some of these matters :
Comprehensive revision of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (the Act), with regard to: (a) the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice report, dated May 2008, particularly recommendation 71.2; and (b) recommendations relating to the Act from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Inquiry into the potential reforms of Australia's National Security Legislation report, dated May 2013.
Keep an eye on that space, it might be the best we can hope for.

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