Privacy protests to defend civil liberties

Issue 
Poster for Brisbane civil liberties action.

In the next few weeks, protests will be held around the country against the Australian government’s complicity in the PRISM spying scandal.

These demonstrations were called in response to the anger and frustration many Australians felt at the eroding of their civil liberties for the benefit of Australian and US imperial interests with the support and assistance of large internet companies.

The Socialist Alliance supports these protests and encourages people to get out in numbers to protest against the destruction of civil liberties, at home and abroad. The companies and governments responsible for this deserve to be held accountable. This is a major breach of trust by the Australian and US governments. The public has the right to know about backroom deals that bargain away our civil liberties for the sake of US imperial power and “security”.

It is important to rally for this cause. First, it shows support and gratitude to Edward Snowden, currently seeking asylum in Ecuador, for exposing the US’s crimes against its citizens.

Snowden, like Bradley Manning before him, is a hero of free information and a hero to those who want to live free from government surveillance and tyranny.

Second, the Socialist Alliance calls for a campaign to expose and challenge Australia’s role in this scandal.

The Australian government has refused to release information on how many Australian citizens have been spied on by the US or whether the Australian government knew about it. The Australian secret service, ASIO, has been slowly increasing its powers and scope. This affects activists and progressive campaigners, as ASIO has a long history of monitoring and harassing activists.

Activists and the broader public have a right to know whether ASIO and the government have been intercepting information with the help of the US. These laws and powers can be used against anyone who disagrees with the government — including striking workers, anti-corporate protesters, critical journalists and peace activists.

The Australian government should be publicly condemning the Barack Obama administration, the US government and the National Security Agency’s PRISM program for eroding the civil liberties of millions of people around the world. Instead it is being just as secretive and opaque.

The US’s pursuit of spying on people — either its citizens or others — is a sign of its arrogance and a result of its position as a long-term superpower. If such a security apparatus was erected in China or Iran, the US government would be calling for sanctions against an undemocratic “rogue state”.

The protection of civil liberties is essential for the development of a strong and vibrant political life that can actually challenge the system. Historically, powerful capitalist states have used spying and “security” services to repress political activists, such as COINTELPRO, which harassed groups such as the Black Panthers and Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s.

The Socialist Alliance calls for a big campaign that can defend the right of progressive forces to organise.

[For more information visit Protect Our Privacy.]

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