Commercial surveillance the more immediate problem for citizens: Home Affairs chief

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Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo has made clear his intended approach to the reform of Australia’s electronic surveillance laws: Bulldoze everything and start again.

We also need “a broader societal discussion about privacy”, he said.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on Thursday, Pezzullo described the surveillance law reforms now under way as more of a rebuild, not just a renovation.

“I’d like to get to a point if we can design the legislation almost as if we are… not just renovating an existing structure, but literally clearing a site, levelling it, understanding what’s in the ground, what all the different conditions are in relation to that site, and building the new structure together,” he said.

Pezzullo wants “everyday Australians” to have the confidence that it would be “highly unusual for any of their data, any of their devices, or indeed any of their engagement through their devices with data, to be the subject of surveillance or interception”.

He wants to “move hopefully away from a notion, which has crept into the discussion around surveillance, of the mass ingestion of data almost for a ‘store and use it later’ basis”.

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