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Pre-election attack on privacy.



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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Democrats Senator for South Australia Dated: 28 August 2004

Pre-Election Attack On Privacy

Whether or not the Prime Minister calls an election this weekend, the Governments unprecedented attack on privacy will continue in full force next week, according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats Privacy Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said the Government would either be pushing for the passage of a host of anti-privacy laws in Parliament next week, or it would be shamelessly exploiting its extensive voter database in the heat of an election campaign.

"This is a Government which not only insisted that political parties should be exempt from the Privacy Act, but is now seeking to give itself unprecedented powers to monitor our everyday lives," Senator Stott Despoja said.

"If the Governments Bills are passed next week, it will have the power to access private email, SMS and voicemail communications without an interception warrant; use tracking and optical surveillance devices without a warrant; and, establish an extensive biometric database of all Australian passport holders.

"These are all fundamentally important issues which should be put to the electorate, not rushed through before the election," Senator Stott Despoja.

Senator Stott Despoja will next week move a motion calling for an inquiry into a range of privacy issues, including:

The extensive use of voter databases by political parties;

The extent of surveillance within the community by both Government agencies and the private sector;

Government access to stored communications such as email, SMS and voicemail;

The increasing rate of telecommunications interception by law enforcement and intelligence agencies;

Australias participation in the global ECHELON interception program, which has been documented in a report of the European Parliament; and

The lack of legislative protection for sensitive genetic information.