Privacy SOS

Australia government rushes terror laws that will allow spies to wiretap the entire internet

Did you hear about that ISIS plot to kidnap and behead random people in Australia? Did you hear about how it might not actually be true?

No matter. Just in time, the Australia government is marshaling the precious and precipitous subsequent jump in the Public Fear Index to pass broad new terrorism laws. Those laws will grant the nation's intelligence service the ability to wiretap the entire internet with just one warrant. That matters not just for Aussies but for people the world over.

Australia's intelligence service—ASIO—is best buddies with the US NSA. They are part of something called "Five Eyes", a group of Anglo countries that share intelligence information and surveillance infrastructure. Therefore surveillance powers granted to ASIO are in some sense powers also granted to NSA.

But it's not just surveillance. The terror laws will institute 10 year prison sentences for bloggers, journalists, or anyone else convicted of "recklessly" disclosing government secrets. Some officials say they open the door to "legal" torture. Among other horrible things, they also allow the government to grant ASIO powers to "affiliates" including private contractors.

Did ISIS plot to behead random Australians? We might never know. But it doesn't really matter. Politicians are capitalizing on the wave of fear that swept planet earth after news of the alleged plot to rush through the worst terror laws Australia has ever seen.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.