Paying a high price for embarrassing the government

free speech indeed

4th June 2016

None of the politicians are talking about it, but threats to freedom of speech have emerged in three different guises in the first three weeks of the election campaign.

First there was the assailing of Duncan Storrar by that bastion of free speech, News Corp, for having had the nerve to put his head above the parapet on the ABC TV program Q&A, by questioning the fairness of the federal budget.

The newspaper company dredged up his criminal history – his last conviction was eight years ago – and revealed unhappy aspects of his family life.

It was a chilling spectacle for other private citizens. Despite a disability and poor education, Storrar wished to make himself heard in the national debate.

The second case concerned Dr Peter Young, psychiatrist and whistleblower.

Young was responsible for supervising mental health services to asylum seekers in all Australian-run detention centres from 2011 to mid-2014. In this capacity he was employed by International Health Management Services (IHMS), a company contracted to the federal government.

In 2014, giving evidence to an Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in detention, Young said that the Immigration Department had been told several weeks earlier about the prevalence of mental health problems among child detainees. He told the inquiry that the department had ordered the figures be removed from a report.

Now it emerges that he has been a target of an Australian Federal Police investigation.

The Guardian Australia reported on May 24 that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had compiled hundreds of pages of file notes and reports on Young, including documents that showed his phone records had been investigated.

freedom of speech2

The newspaper reported that the Department of Immigration had sought an investigation by the AFP after the publication in media reports of the medical records of Hamid Khazaei, an asylum seeker detained on Manus Island. Khazaei died from septicaemia in September 2014, provoking strong criticism of the government’s asylum-seeker policies.

Young had subsequently requested access to files the AFP had compiled on him. According to the newspaper, the files stated that Young was a suspect in the investigation of the leaking of Khazaei’s records, because of “comments attributed to him being highly critical of [the Immigration Department] and IHMS in their handling of asylum seeker medical care” in two news reports.

However, the police examination of Young’s phone metadata revealed that he had had no contact with the media when the articles on Khazaei were published.

Young was quoted by The Guardian as saying that, in addition to accessing his metadata, the AFP had contacted his colleagues and questioned them about why they were speaking to him.

The third case also involves the AFP.

Last week, they made a fine election-time media spectacle of a raid on the home of a staffer for Labor’s communications spokesman, Jason Clare.

Television cameras and a scrimmage of media accompanied the officers to a home in Brunswick in Melbourne’s inner north. When the door opened a woman occupant was caught in a fusillade of flashbulbs.

On the same day, the AFP also raided the parliamentary office of the former Labor communications minister, Stephen Conroy, in the more restricted confines of the Commonwealth Offices in Treasury Place, East Melbourne.

This time the police were investigating the leaking of documents concerning cost blow-outs and other embarrassments surrounding the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Having the media along for the ride seemed designed to show how unpleasant the AFP can make life for people who dare to embarrass the government.

freedom of speech3

These episodes raise several questions:

  • When big media start banging on about freedom of speech, whose speech are they clamouring to protect? Just their own or everyone else’s too?
  • How effective are Australia’s whistleblower laws in protecting people who speak out on matters of public interest, as Young did?
  • Is government embarrassment a sufficient reason to punish disclosure?
  • Does the AFP display an appropriate degree of operational independence?

The force has a long history of going after whistleblowers, even when the subject matter has nothing to do with terrorism, national security or serious crime.

One of the more egregious examples occurred in 2004 when the AFP prosecuted a Commonwealth public servant – unsuccessfully, as it turned out – for allegedly disclosing material proving the Howard government was lying about the effects of changes to war veterans’ welfare entitlements.

The public servant was acquitted on appeal, but the proceedings ensnared the two Herald Sun reporters who wrote the story. This ultimately resulted in them being convicted of contempt of court for refusing to disclose the identity of their confidential source.

The law that enables the AFP to embark on these oppressive operations is a catch-all secrecy provision, Section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act. Like its contemporary successors, including the Anti-Terrorism Act (No 2) 2005, and the National Security Legislation Amendment Act (No 1) 2014, Section 70 contains no public-interest defence with which whistleblowers and journalists might defend themselves in the event of prosecution.

All this suits both sides of politics, so we are not likely to hear anything about it from the campaigning politicians. But three obvious remedies suggest themselves: putting a public-interest defence in the various laws, making the whistleblower laws more effective, and changing the craven culture of the AFP.

 

 

source:http://theconversation.com/paying-a-high-price-for-embarrassing-the-government-60190

Europe To Send Conspiracy Theorists To ‘Reeducation Camps’

eyesillum

3rd Jun 2016

Citizens in Europe who break new “hate speech” rules on the internet, including those who spread conspiracy theories online, will be forced to attend ‘reeducation camps’.

According to section 7 of the European Framework National Statute For The Promotion Of Tolerance:

Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme designed to instill in them a culture of tolerance.

The full section reads:

Section 7. Penal Sanctions


(a) The following acts will be regarded as criminal offences punishable as aggravated crimes:

(i) Hate crimes as defined in Section 1(c).

(ii) Incitement to violence against a group as defined in Section 1(a).

(iii) Group libel as defined in Section 1(b).

(iv) Overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or anti-Semitism.

(v) Public approval or denial of the Holocaust.

(vi) Public approval or denial of any other act of genocide the existence of which has been determined by an international criminal court or tribunal.

(b)Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme designed to instill in them a culture of tolerance.

(iv) Overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or anti-Semitism.

(v) Public approval or denial of the Holocaust.

News of the reeducation camps comes after U.S. internet giants Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft promised to tackle online counter-narratives and hate speech as part of a joint commitment with the EU Commission.

Bloomberg.com reports:

Beyond national laws that criminalize hate speech, there is a need to ensure such activity by Internet users is “expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame,” the companies and the European Commission said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

A French Jewish youth group, UEJF, sued Twitter, Facebook and Google in Paris this month over how they monitor hate speech on the web.

In the course of about six weeks in April and May, members of French anti-discrimination groups flagged unambiguous hate speech that they said promoted racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism.

More than 90 percent of the posts pointed out to Twitter and YouTube remained online within 15 days on average following requests for removal, according to the study by UEJF, SOS Racism and SOS Homophobia.

 

source:http://yournewswire.com/europe-to-send-conspiracy-theorists-to-reeducation-camps/

European Commission Wants You To Log Into Social Media Accounts With Govt-Issued ID Cards

big-brother-1984

2nd June 2016

The European Commission plans to attack citizens’ right to online privacy, insisting that state-issued ID cards should be used to log into platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and even Uber.

The Vice President for the Digital Single Market on the European Commission, former Communist Andrus Ansip, is behind the next European Union (EU) raid on personal freedoms, promoting the idea of using national ID cards to log in to online services.

Leaked documents from within the European Commission revealed a call for the roll out of a more extensive use of national ID cards across the EU. The documents have since been uploaded to the Commission’s own website.

Mr. Ansip is from Estonia, a small Baltic country and former Communist state which has the most highly-developed national ID card system in the world.  The Estonian state website boasts: “Much more than simply a legal picture ID, the mandatory national card serves as the digital access card for all of Estonia’s secure e-services.” Read more …

Facebook will now track everything you do – even if you aren’t a member

dislike

29th May 2016

Facebook has announced it is going to start pushing ads to every single person who uses third-party sites signed up to its advertising scheme.

The Wall Street Journal reported the move will help ‘power all advertising across the internet.’

Facebook previously only showed adverts to its members on third-party sites signed up to Audience Network and only bothered to track what users did online.

The new change will impact anyone using the internet regardless of whether they have a Facebook account or not.

Facebook will be allowed to track people’s browsing behaviour and collect information about all internet users – using the like button and other code on various web sites.

Using the information gathered it will target ads to non-Facebook users.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s ads and business platform vice president Andrew Bosworth said: “Our buttons and plugins send over basic information about users’ browsing sessions.

“For non-Facebook members, previously we didn’t use it.

“Now we’ll use it to better understand how to target those people.”

 

 

source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/facebook-now-track-everything-you-8076511?ICID=FB_mirror_main