by Jennifer O'Brien

Privacy advocate speaks out against AFP’s raid on press

Jun 06, 2019
Business ContinuityCloud ComputingCompliance

Privacy advocate, Paul Bischoff, has hit back at the AFP, calling its raid on ABC’s offices and a journalist’s home “especially troubling.” He said journalists need to beef up cybersecurity measures.

According to press reports, AFP officers searched more than 9200 items regarding reports published two years ago about alleged unlawful killings and misconduct by Special Forces troops in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, the AFP raided the Sydney headquarters of the public broadcaster and also the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.

“The news of two recent raids on members of the press in Australia combined with the recently-passed Assistance and Access Bill – also known as the anti-encryption law – is especially troubling,” Bischoff said.

“Australia is heading down a path that leads to its citizens not being able to speak freely nor privately.”

When members of the press are targeted by their own governments, it’s important for journalists to step up their cybersecurity and protect sources, he warned.

“If you cannot depend on the law to protect press freedoms, then journalists must take care to secure their communications, notes, drafts, data, documents, and other materials.

“Most importantly, they need to encrypt their phones and laptops, connect to reputable VPNs, and use secure communication channels with end-to-end encryption.

Meanwhile, the Greens are calling for a Senate inquiry into what it said is “declining press freedom in Australia” after the AFP raided Smethurst’s home.

“The raid of a press gallery journalist’s home, after reporting on the Morrison Government, sends a shiver down the spine of Australians who value freedom of the press. This attack on press freedom cannot go uninvestigated,” Greens media spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“This heavy-handed operation is designed to intimidate all journalists from writing the truth about this Government. It sets a dangerous precedent and is not us.

“Australians deserve to know what the Government is doing. Journalists should be able to report the facts without looking over their shoulder for the AFP. An attack on the press for doing their job is an attack on our democracy.

“This raid should be condemned. Scott Morrison’s response shows he has no regard for freedom of the press when it doesn’t suit his government’s agenda.

“When Parliament resumes, I will move to set up a Senate inquiry into our declining press freedom to examine how the Liberal National Government’s agenda has sought to weaken our democracy.”