The Appendix "Public perceptions on digital rights" is probably the most enlightening and useful section in the report. For anyone interested in the report you might just read these few pages at the end. This reflects on our community attitudes to digital rights. It is an enlightening contrast with the detailed report and recommendations.
Professor Gillian Triggs introduction reminds us of why we should be more concerned than we perhaps are about digital rights. A key observation she offered included"
" No warrant or judicial supervision is required for ASIO and other government agents to have access to the metadata retained in this way. Since the mandatory data retention laws were passed, about 60 agencies have asked for access to the data. Traditional law requires that the content of an email or phone call may be accessed only with a prior judicial warrant. Ironically, access to metadata without a warrant, will reveal more about a person and their network of relationships than will the content of an email or phone call."
The recommendations in the report are summarised in two pages from page 8. Although some of the reasoning or understanding needed to appreciate them fully may need you to read the following sections in the report more than once.
The core part of the report left my head spinning. Through it's separate topics you get an appreciation of the breadth of the impact of the digital revolution. The topics touch on many different aspects of our life from privacy and security to child protection and freedom of expression. Each is clearly written and cover complex issues succinctly.
Each topic was usually concluded with a short summary paragraph highlighting key risks, consequences and any recommendation actions for change.
There are clear points in the topics concerning the "international" nature of the digital universe and the issues relating to how differences between different jurisdictions impact. There are other instances and an interesting case study "The Ben Grubb case" which serve to high light the gaps between our perceptions of what is fair and reasonable and how the law fails to respond in kind.
Separate to the report the very current revelation that Ebay is treating Australian users that are purchasing from a seller who users Amazon's fulfillment service differently to those in the USA.serves as an example of what we might expect without change. The report serves as a warning.
I was left with an impression that as a community we are approximately evenly divided in our views on most of the issues.
"50% of Australians agreed that everyone should have the right to online anonymity or pseudonymity, a figure that
increases to 57% for those under 40 years." Refer to the appendix I mentioned previously.
The results on many of the other areas surveyed suggest that outside of a limited number of the topics and issues raised there might be insufficient support for major change. The extent to which this is due to ambivalence or lack of understanding is not tested.