File sharers to lose all privacy under MOU?

Summary:The Pirate Party Australia has criticised a recently signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Australia and the US on the grounds that it may result in a gross violation of Australian citizens' privacy.

The Pirate Party Australia has criticised a recently signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Australia and the US on the grounds that it may result in a gross violation of Australian citizens' privacy.

(Searching for "buried treasure" in Afghanistan image by The US Army, CC BY 2.0)

The MOU, signed in Canberra during US president Barack Obama's visit to Australia last week, provides US law-enforcement agencies with automatic access to fingerprint and DNA reference data.

Personal data that would be shared includes information on a target's full name, aliases, sex, date and place of birth, nationality, passport number, other identity document numbers and fingerprint data.

One of the conditions under which data will be provided is that the target must have committed, or is going to commit, a serious criminal offence, or participate in an organised criminal group or association.

The Pirate Party Australia argues that the broad use of the term "organised criminal group or association" could lead to an abuse of power and an invasion of privacy, especially with groups whose activities may not necessarily be considered criminal by all.

"What about WikiLeaks and its supporters? The Australian government has already shown its desire to persecute Julian Assange, despite it being clear that he has not committed a crime in this country," said Pirate Party Australia deputy president Simon Frew.

Frew also said that the people who share files online might also be considered criminals, and have their personal information exposed to US counterparts.

"Considering how rabid the US government is becoming on copyright issues, could this agreement be used against people who merely share files online? They have already attempted to extradite people from the UK in order to subject them to US law. The same cannot be allowed to happen here. We should not be subject to the laws of a government we do not elect ourselves," he said.

Topics: Government, Government : AU, Privacy, Security

About

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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