Since the new powers were also used to

Since the attacks of 9/11 the terrorism threats have yet to be stopped. Threats come and go and many people all over the world are on high alert, either by judgement by race, culture, activities or just for protection. Due to the many forms of terrorism in the last decade, it’s becoming increasingly normal for civil liberties to be slowly taken away and for government agencies to spy on citizens, to collect and to store their personal information. Firstly, in the aftermath of 9/11, the US government concluded that the law had not kept pace with technology and so they created the Terrorist Surveillance Program.  Soon the new powers were also used to prove “guilt by association”. The FBI used immigration records to identify Arab and Muslim foreign nationals in the US. Through this tactic, 80,000 individuals were required to register, another 8,000 were called in for FBI interviews, and more than 5,000 locked up in preventive detention. But not one terrorist was found. In what’s being called the most “aggressive national campaign of ethnic profiling since ww2”. Unfairly targeting innocent Arabs and Muslims, using force against them without solid evidence, and disregarding fundamental principles of the rules of law and human rights. In the long run the hatred provoked by these measures is the greatest threat to Australia’s national security as well as many other countries worldwide, and the most likely source of future attacks.Secondly, in addition to daily collection of data from civilian internet information such as email content and contact list, the ASIO (also known as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) can also demand information from sources such as Microsoft or Google. So, instead of focusing on criminals, governments are increasingly turning their attention to everyone. In early 2016, the FBI asked apple to produce a backdoor program to disable the encryption (data that needs a special tool to be decoded) of a terrorist’s iPhone. Apple publicly declined, not only because this tool can be used to permanently weaken the privacy of law-abiding  citizens worldwide, but fearing the consequences of enabling governments the access to technology used by billions of people. A few weeks later, the FBI revealed that they had hacked the phone themselves, basically admitting that they lied to the public about the need for a backdoor, which questions how trustworthy spy agencies are in the debate about privacy and security. Considering that the ASIO already has the capability to turn on your phone microphone or activate your laptop camera without you noticing, what we need is not more random data, but better ways to understanding and use the information we have.Thirdly, right now we live in a democracy. But imagine the damage the wrong person could do with all our data with such easy access to our devices. Anti-terrorism laws allow the authorities to investigate and punish non-terrorism related crimes more aggressively. If you allow law enforcements these powerful tools, they will use them. Even if these tools and laws aren’t used against you today, they might be tomorrow. For instance, following the November 2015 Paris attacks, France expanded its already extensive anti-terrorism laws by giving law enforcement greater powers to conduct house raids and place people under house arrest. Within weeks, evidence emerged that these powers were being used for unrelated purposes such as stopping climate change protests. The motivation behind government strategies might be for good, even noble, but if we let our elected governments limit our personal freedom, the terrorist will continue winning. What’s worse, if we are not careful, we might slowly become a total surveillance state. It is true that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act states that ‘Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and correspondence.’ Spying on innocent citizens clearly breaches this agreement and is completely unfair to the public. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists safety and privacy go hand in hand. So it appears that Australia’s national security is to be moving away from the rights of the individual but towards the security and protection of the majority.To sum up, terrorism is a complicated problem without simple solutions. No security apparatus can prevent a few people or even just one person from constructing a bomb in their home. To take full advantage of this existing potential, we need better international cooperation and more effective security and foreign policies, better application of our present laws instead of new and stricter ones that slowly takes away our freedom.


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