November 2021 – Online Privacy Bill Response

Rather than meeting to discuss a set of readings in November, we decided it would be more productive (and timely) to focus on the recent call for responses on the upcoming Online Privacy Bill from the Australian Federal Government. This Bill (and its current draft legislation) uses the protection of ‘children and vulnerable groups’ as a basis for much of its regulation and so we felt it apt that we respond, with the best interests of young people in mind.

Upon reading the available documents, we found a number of reasons for concern. Perhaps most notably, we felt that the regulations around collecting the data of those under 16 would necessitate that introduction of a draconian real-name internet policy. This is a cause for concern for every citizen, disallowing the ability to have an online ‘private life’, but more acutely it is a concern for those groups who are already subject to undue surveillance (from both private bodies and the state). It appears such groups were not consulted at any point in the development process for the legislation. Instead, the primary group the draft legislation is concerned with appears to be large, private technology companies. These companies are likely to be tasked with creating the regulatory code by which they will be bound in regard to data collection and storage. The notion of a government body outsourcing industry regulation to the very industry which is to be regulated appeared to be a major folly in our reading of the Bill and its draft legislation.

These are our primary concerns around the Bill (in a very abridged format). Our entire response to the Bill can be found here. We welcome anyone to read and respond to our analysis, as an ongoing and wide ranging discourse is to be desired in matters of public policy.

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