Queensland is famous for its world-class beaches and relaxed attitude — sadly it is also famous for having more CCTV cameras per head of the population than anywhere in the world, beating even the U.K. The parliamentary debate about this ignored the research, showing no evidence that CCTV deterred criminal activity. This week one of the local councils takes this to a new low adding audio recording functionality to its cameras. The reasoning is like a real life version of Dave Eggers novel, "The Circle." “You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.” Our privacy commissioner has expressed grave concerns and fortunately for Phil Green, unlike his counterpart in Victoria, David Watts, the local council does not have power to restructure the role when criticism is raised. Where else but Queensland?
Elsewhere the controversial legislation around re-identification has been amended and looks like it may pass through Parliament. Readers may recall it was a swift reaction to the accidental re-identification of individuals from poorly de-identified data provided to the University of Melbourne. The act has the effect of criminalizing re-identification but fails to address the need for departments to harden up their de-identification. It does nothing to encourage the responsible reporting of risks, and in turn does not address the real purpose of de-identification — to protect individuals' privacy. The retrospective nature contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that nobody shall be held guilty of a criminal offence for an activity which was not a criminal offence at the time it was committed.
All in all, not a stellar week for privacy in the Antipodes.
Have a super weekend.
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