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Terrorism Pretext Behind New Australia's Law, to Bring Surveillance Regime: Analyst

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Terrorism is only a pretext for legal changes in Australia, and the newly-passed legislation would eventually bring the surveillance regime into the country, Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst at Electronic Frontier Foundation told RIA Novosti.

WASHINGTON, October 3 (Ria Novosti), Liudmila Chernova - Terrorism is only a pretext for legal changes in Australia, and the newly-passed legislation would eventually bring the surveillance regime into the country, Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst at Electronic Frontier Foundation told RIA Novosti.

"The new security law in Australia indicates that terrorism is being used as a pretext for legal changes that will go far beyond this," Malcolm said on Thursday.

"This is the same formula that was used post 9/11 in the United States to bring in the NSA surveillance regime, that was unmasked by Edward Snowden," the expert claimed.

Australia's lower house of parliament passed a law on Wednesday, according to which anyone disclosing information about "special intelligence operations" could face a decade in prison, according to Reuters.

The new legislation introduced by the country's government in attempt to boost security in the wake of a terrorist threat from the Islamic State (IS) also bans copying, transcribing, retaining and recording intelligence materials. Australian Parliament passed a law, presupposing similar punishment for disclosing information concerning special intelligence operations.

"Once you have a surveillance state, it will creep into all corners of life," Malcolm stressed.

"Those who are not terrorists and who have nothing to "hide" might nevertheless have something to fear," he added.

Malcolm warned that minorities and dissidents should be particularly worried that their data will be collected and may be misused, either by this government, a future government, or criminals who are able to gain access to the collect data illegally.

Nevertheless, global policy analyst underlined that this law is out in the open.

"Even worse are regimes where surveillance and censorship are technically illegal, but are nevertheless conducted in secret under programs that the public does not know about," he explained.

Despite this little advantage, Malcolm pointed out the disadvantages of the legislation.

"It will chill freedom of expression, including freedom of the press," he said. "Besides, it raises the risk that users' data will be hacked and misused by criminals or by overzealous public officials; and that it casts far too broad a net for legally authorized surveillance, affecting users who are known to be innocent of any wrongdoing."

Malcolm emphasized that EFF was gravely disappointed to see that the law contains no "public interest" exceptions at all, such as an exception for journalistic reporting.

"As a result, we are likely to see a marked reduction in reporting of intelligence programs, even those that are rogue and arguably illegal, and that only come to public light through leaks," Electronic Frontier Foundation expert said.

"The public will have to turn instead to non-journalistic sources such as Wikileaks for this information, which will probably have the opposite effect than the lawmakers intend - since this information will probably not be redacted to take account of national security concerns," he concluded.

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