Australians should be shaken by the Federal Government’s use of the term executive detention, Liberty Victoria said today.
The human rights group said the plan to hold suspects for a fortnight without charge plays into the hands of terror groups while being aimed at stopping them.
“Such a curtailment of people’s hard-fought freedom is a big step down the wrong road,” said Liberty president Jessie Taylor.
“No proof has been offered to show that this is necessary. On the contrary authorities have shown an ability to stem potential attacks with the vast array of resources now available, including phone tapping and surveillance.”
Attorney-General George Brandis used the term executive detention in response to the plan by one state for suspects to be held for 28 days. At present, suspects can be held for a week in most states and territories.
"That is certainly an adequate amount of time for charges to be brought,” said Ms Taylor.
Experts have also challenged a proposal that driver's licence photos be added to a national database.
The government already has access to passport photos and immigration data but said including the pictures of people from their driver's licences would give them access to many more people.
“It is not good enough for the NSW Premier to say that we must accept the curtailment of civil liberties `from time to time’ to protect public safety. This is not happening ‘from time to time’ but constantly.”
The idea is that the facial recognition technology would be used in public spaces like shopping malls as well as airports to help quickly identify people suspected of terrorism.
A cyberspace expert has warned of the risk of the database being hacked. “Those of us who are not terrorists still have an awful lot to worry about here,” Ms Taylor said.
“We have no confidence in any guarantee by government that this data is safe from hacking or other unauthorised or unlawful access or dissemination. And of course, biometric identifiers such as facial structure or eye scans do not change; once that information is out there, it’s out there forever.”