With more and more Australians conducting more and more of their education, business, finance and social lives online, the Australian Greens have announced a plan for an independent human rights commissioner for digital rights, to advocate for the online safety, accessibility, privacy and security of all Australians, Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said today.
"It's virtually impossible for an individual to engage with the wider world if they can't access the internet. Australians are some of the heaviest users of the internet in the world, yet we lag way behind in the protection of our rights online," Senator Ludlam said.
"A growing number of nations are protecting this access through legal provisions, but here in Australia even attempts at discussion or advocacy are hastily shot down by both the Labor and Liberal parties.
"A Digital Rights Commissioner, working within the Australian Human Rights Commission, will work to scrutinise legislation, and will advise governments, departments and the general public on the effect of proposals, programs and legislation, focusing on online safety, accessibility, privacy and security for all Australians. The Human Rights Commission achieves their objective through education, legal advice, public advocacy and research.
"It's not just data retention, or the new facial recognition capability. It's not just privacy that is under attack; the government and opposition have shown startling illiteracy around issues such as encryption, which millions of Australians rely on for their banking and secure communication. An independent advocate will help address vulnerability to online fraud and theft, well before ill-considered proposals become law.
"Debates about digital rights in Australia have mostly been reactive; to the Snowden disclosures, the mandatory data retention scheme, or the internet filter. Those discussions centred on the false choice between individual privacy or national security. An independent Digital Rights Commissioner will help to bring forward informed debate about all of the impacts of proposed or possible legislation on our rights online, helping to prevent the further erosion of those rights," Senator Ludlam said.
Read more about the Digital Rights Commissioner at greens.org.au/digital-rights-commissioner