press freedom AFP

Last Friday, Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin revealed that an AFP officer had accessed a journalist’s telecommunications data without a "journalist information warrant " --  in breach of amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, which had been passed by the Parliament 18 months earlier.

Why does this matter? Because the officer was accessing the data in order to discover the journalist’s confidential sources for a news story. It matters because whistleblowers rely on journalists to help reveal instances of dishonesty, corruption and threats to public health and safety. It matters because the data retention enabled by the act was about protecting us from terrorist attacks and maintaining national security. Instead, this legislation is being used to hunt down and pursue whistleblowers exposing stuff-ups that embarrass the government.