While today’s Essential Report poll shows voters support the idea of restricting the rights of “some” to ensure the security of the rest of the community, when the focus shifts to their own rights, they become a lot more concerned about state overreach.
Essential found that 71% of Australian social media users (who make up around three-quarters of the population) are concerned about surveillance and privacy online, including 28% who professed themselves “very concerned”. Fifty-five per cent of social media users had increased their security settings; 49% had changed the type of things they were posting online, and 41% had removed information about themselves.
They are wise to do so — there are plenty of threats to our privacy online: the corporations that provide the social media platforms, the advertisers that want to sell us things, the criminals who want our personal data and the governments that want to monitor what we’re doing and saying. The copyright industry even wants to turn our ISPs into their own private police force under the excuse of preventing file sharing.
Whether or not the government is successful in securing passage of its mass surveillance measure later in the year (for data retention is mass surveillance), we hope one positive of the debate will be a significant rise in the number of Australians taking measures to secure their privacy online as much as conveniently possible.
Forget “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide” — Australians don’t need to justify their right to privacy to anyone, and you’re a mug if you think you can trust our government or corporations with your data.