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Digital Rights Watch accuses successive governments of ‘bipartisan contempt’ for the rights of its citizens

An organisation that aims to protect the digital rights of Australians has released a timeline showing the “bipartisan contempt” successive governments have had for the privacy of its citizens, accusing them of dragging the country into a “police state”.

Digital Rights Watch (DRW) is a registered charity operating for the “general community in Australia”, according to its filings with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

The organisation has published the timeline on its website, beginning with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre as a catalyst for the growth of government surveillance on its own citizens.

Through the remainder of the Howard years, the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd ALP, and the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Coalition, the organisation highlights more than 20 events and legislations that have had a negative impact on the digital rights of Australians.

DRW said the “bipartisan contempt for human rights continues to drag Australia into a police state”.

“It’s appalling to see the breadth of legislation that has been passed over the past 20 years, all of which has had a devastating impact on the human rights of everyday Australians,” said DRW chair Lizzie O’Shea.

“What we have seen is that successive governments of both major parties have been steadily eroding the protections of our fundamental human rights.”

She said most Australians wouldn’t be aware of how far the “legislative agenda” extends, “nor that it was a bipartisan responsibility”.

Ms O’Shea highlighted Labor’s December 2018 support for a Coalition move to compel tech companies “to break the security of their own products so that Australians can be spied on” as an example.

“On top of this, (Home Affairs minister) Peter Dutton is now floating the idea of expanding the mandate of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) so they can spy on citizens. These agencies have an insatiable appetite for power, and no matter how drastic the reforms, they always want more,” she said. .


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