World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Aust.: Planned Phone Tap Laws Threaten Press

Planned Phone Tap Laws Threaten Press Freedom

SYDNEY (MEAA/Pacific Media Watch): If federal government plans to give its security agencies new phone-tapping powers are accepted, journalists must assume that their conversations with sources will be intercepted, says Australia's media union.

This excessive threat to press freedom will not only deter confidential sources but may also lead to a culture of self-censorship.

The legislation to be introduced into Parliament today allows spies, police and other security agencies to not only tap the phones of third parties to suspected terrorist plots, but also intercept emails, SMS and monitor mobile calls.

"What is particularly concerning about this legislation is that anyone who interacts with the suspects of serious crime - not those proven guilty - can come under surveillance. The rights of innocent third parties is jeopardised by this excessive and invasive proposal," said Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren.

For journalists who cover politics, crime or security issues, these laws pose a particular threat to their work. At any time police could be listening to their conversations, obliterating any professional right the journalist has to protect the confidentiality of his source.

"Without public faith in the journalists' promise to protect sources, much crucial information in the public interest would not come to light," said Warren.

"The government's attempt to destroy this trust will result in fewer people speaking out and a public left with nothing but government spin and other media stunts."

The government already has powers under the Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment (Stored Communications) Act 2004 to obtain a warrant to access stored communications, including SMS, MMS (multimedia message), email and voicemail messages. That in itself poses a threat to the anonymity of journalists' sources.

"This new law, like the recently enacted anti-terror laws, is unnecessary given the legislation already in place to gather evidence in relation to crime suspects. There is no reason to take that a step further and inhibit civil rights and press freedom," said Warren.

"More than ever we rely on our media to provide the public with clear and accurate information to engage in public debate. It is our democratic right to do so. It seems the government is intent to listen in on our conversations but it could be asked: are they actually listening?"

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news