Timothy Wilson Comments: ALRC Discussion Paper on the Invasion of Privacy

Today the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released a discussion paper titled Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era (DP 80, 2014). The paper considers the details of the current legal design of causes of action to invasions of privacy. It also looks at other innovative ways the law might prevent or redress serious invasions of privacy.

ALRC Commissioner for the Inquiry, Professor Barbara McDonald, said “New technologies are constantly adding new ways to collect and use information about people’s activities, and to intrude into someone’s private life, challenging the usefulness of some existing laws. The ALRC proposals reflect the need to provide people across all of Australia with the same level of protection for their privacy and competing freedoms.”

Some Australians have already read the paper and are speaking out. The popular website Gizmodo details how the proposals in the ALRC paper could kill of emerging technology such as ‘Google Glass’. You can read that article here: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/03/australias-new-privacy-laws-may-kill-off-google-glass/

 

If you want to read the paper you can here: www.alrc.gov.au/publications/serious-invasions-privacy-dp-80.

If you feel strongly about the matter and want to make submissions on the paper the relevant forms and outline can be found here: www.alrc.gov.au/content/privacy-subs-DP80. The closing date for such a submission is 12 May, 2014.

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Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk

Timothy Wilson Comments: Sydney CBD and Kings Cross Assault Incidents Fall by Half

Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch has recently said that the number of assaults had halved since the O’Farrell government enforced its lockout legislation on February 24.

“Reported assaults have dropped significantly — almost by half,” Mr Murdoch said. “We are now into the fifth weekend of the new regulations and acts of violence and drunkenness are down.”

Similarly a NSW Ambulance spokeswoman cited an almost 30 per cent drop in the assault numbers treated by ambulance officers compared to the same period last year.

There have been no reports on inscribed violence or incidents in outer city areas since the introduction of the new laws. But while violence statistics have plummeted, nightclub and bar industry groups have reported a downturn in trade by up to 30 per cent since the lockouts came into effect.

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Read the full story here: http://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/new-booze-laws-make-the-city-and-kings-cross-a-safer-place-as-assault-incidents-fall-by-half-in-wake-of-lockout-laws/story-fnii5s3x-1226869289625

Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk

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Timothy Wilson Comments: Government Cuts Legal Aid for Asylum Seekers

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced that from today asylum seekers who arrived without proper visas, either by boat or plane, won’t be eligible for legal aid help under the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme.

Asylum seekers will continue to be given instructions setting out the asylum process and interpreters. And the scheme does not limit asylum seekers to seek other free legal advice or help from non-government organisations. A small amount of support will still be offered to vulnerable people, such as unaccompanied minors.

It is projected that the cut will save the government $100 million over four years.

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Read the full story here: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/03/31/government-cuts-legal-aid-asylum-seekers

Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk

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Timothy Wilson Comments: US Judge rules IP-Address is Not a Person and Cannot Identify A Bittorrent Pirate

A District Court Judge in Florida has recently ruled that IP address evidence cannot identify a person who has downloaded an illegal torrent.

The peer-to-peer based file sharing method of torrenting is a regular topic in courts with copyright infringement and piracy. The basis’ for most law suits in this area of the law is the use of an IP address to identify a defendant.

An IP address, or ‘Internet Protocol’ address is numerical label used to to identify machines on a network or the world wide web.

The judge ruled that “There is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff’s videos, and establishing whether that person lives in this district,”.

Read the full story and view a copy of the orders here: http://torrentfreak.com/ip-address-not-person-140324/

This ruling will have huge impacts for civil claims in america and possibly criminal matters as well. Should Australian judges take a similar approach in these sorts of matters? Have you say below.

 

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Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk

James Howell Comments – Does the Punishment Fit the Crime

There has been a lot of talk recently about sentencing law in New South Wales. Almost everybody has an opinion and it is fair to say that most people disagree as to the appropriate sentence for a particular crime. Here is something that we can all agree on, sometimes Karma really does take care of a crime or wrongdoing, in this case road rage.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/karma-never-tasted-so-good-watch-as-this-road-rage-idiot-crashes-his-car-after-giving-woman-the-bird/story-fnixwvgh-1226867250537

 

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James Howell
Senior Associate

 

 

James Howell Comments: Sharing is Caring – A Current Affair and Queensland Police Go Feral?

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James Howell, Senior Associate – Kernaghan & Associates

This week ABC’s Media Watch has rightly raised questions over the report aired on Channel 9’s A Current Affair (ACA) program in which a journalist followed around Queensland Police on their crusade against the dark forces of ‘bikie gangs’.

In the report the journalist is given ‘unprecedented’ Police access to arrests, raids and day to day activities of Queensland Police as they crackdown on alleged criminals involved in bikie gangs.

During the report the journalist asks people if they are “wannabe bikies” and later tells one person who is under arrest and in handcuffs that they are “scum of the earth”. Perhaps more disturbing is that Channel 9 then stood outside a tattoo parlour on the Gold Coast whilst footage of Police entering and leaving the building took place. They describe the incident as a ‘raid’ even though it was a check up on the proprietors paperwork, leaving the viewer with no doubt that this business has links to criminal gangs when clearly it does not or it could not operate under Queensland’s strict ‘bikie laws’.

We have come to expect this sort of low end mud raking journalism from many of the network TV stations, particularly those reporting on news and current affairs. But the icing on the cake is that Channel 9 were provided this footage BY POLICE! Regardless of the strength of the evidence against each of the depicted persons in the report they are still accused and NOT convicted of a crime. Even if they were convicted of a crime it is debatable that it would be appropriate for such comments to be made to those persons, after all it is the Courts and not the media who should impose punishment for an offence. It is almost impossible for an accused person, or any other person for that matter, to respond to such outrageous and biased reporting. For a person accused of a crime it is unfathomable that part of the evidence that may form the case against them is Police video footage where they are being called “scum of the earth”. If a Police force is willing to submit and encourage such disgraceful behaviour on national television one wonders what goes on behind the scenes.

To see the video click here. http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3965547.htm

Stunning Court Renovation

Stunning Court Renovation

With the Wollongong Court House closing down, we wonder if we will be graced with a result that is as beautiful as this renovation completed in Miami? Stull Woodworks were responsible for this achievement and their website has this to say:

“We are privileged to be a part of many restorations that include historical courthouses. This particular project, the Miami County Courthouse located in Troy, Ohio, was an incredibly fun challenge. Our task was to build different pieces from the courtroom and make them match the judges bench. Each piece included hand-carved moldings, wood-veneered panels, and a particular eye to match the original quality. As you can see, our finished product was very similar to the original masterpiece. Since this project, Stull Woodworks has been commissioned to produce other pieces of furniture throughout the courthouse to facilitate the county’s judicial system.”

More Fascinating Court Rooms

More Fascinating Court Rooms

This one, a court “yard” is found in Ambarita and called is Huta Siallagan. The ancient court yard is where the once-local king sat as court of justice and when found guilty, the offenders were decapitated right after the session, on a stone table.

Found on Samosir Island, Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia.

James Howell Comments: Deep Cover – Australia’s Biggest Undercover Investigation

Last Thursday afternoon the serial pedophile found guilty of murdering Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe was sentenced to life in prison, with the judge saying he is “beyond rehabilitation”.
 
Brett Peter Cowan, 44, will spend at least 20 years behind bars. Cowan’s conviction comes after one of Australia’s biggest undercover investigations which had a team of detectives create a fake criminal gang which they ultimately enticed Cowan to join and during a form of gang ‘promotion’ eventually confess to the crime. Regardless of Cowan’s involvement in the matter his confession will likely spark much legal debate as to the legitimacy of such confessions. His defence lawyer had unsuccessfully tried to argue that the confession was made under an inducement of a $100,000.00 pay day and was therefore unreliable as to it’s truthfulness and reliability. Whilst there remains adequate scope for the admissibility, testing and criticism of such evidence in New South Wales (and other jurisdictions) under the Evidence Act it nonetheless raises an important legal question as to whether or not such confessions should form part of a case against an accused.
 

 

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James Howell
Senior Associate