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Issue #1680      April 15, 2015

Message to journalists re: metadata

All Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) members must take steps to protect their interactions with confidential sources in line with the ethical obligations of our craft, warns the journalists’ union. The Data Retention Bill passed in the Parliament was amended to allow for the creation of “public interest advocates” and “journalist information warrants” offer no comfort – this new system operates entirely in secret and you will never know if your metadata has been accessed.

Furthermore, it is an offence to disclose or use information that a warrant “has been, or is being, requested or applied for;” or to disclose information about “the making of such a warrant, the existence or non-existence of such a warrant, the revocation of such a warrant”. Penalty: two years jail. The “public interest advocate(s)” will be appointed by the Prime Minister.

Counter-surveillance tools for journalists – MEAA urges members to take immediate steps to educate themselves about counter-surveillance tools that allow for anonymisation and encryption of your communications data in order to protect yourself, your sources and your journalism. Be alert to the changing vulnerabilities of these tools. MEAA House Committees and delegates are urged to ensure their media employers introduce measures to protect sources and their information. MEAA will be arranging training courses for members on how to protect your data and your work.

Section 35P – The first tranche of national security laws amending the ASIO Act threatens up to 10 years jail for anyone disclosing information about “special intelligence operations” – that includes whistleblowers and journalists. The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor is conducting a review of the Act MEAA will be making a submission to the Monitor’s review.

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