In June 2013 the Australian Government stated its intention to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
On 17 December 2013 a letter signed by more than 100 organisations and individuals was sent to all OGP governments regarding the transparency of global mass surveillance.
One has to wonder if the Abbott Government intends to join the OGP on schedule in April 2014, given that this organisation was established to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens and Australian security organizations are implicated in the concerns set out in the following letter:
17 December 2013
To the Co-Chairs of the Open Government Partnership
Hon. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto
Hon. Alejandra Lagunes
Ms. Suneeta Kaimal
Mr. Rakesh Rajani
Cc: Jourdan Hussein, Ania Calderón Mariscal; OGP Steering Committee members; OGP members
Statement of Concern on Disproportionate Surveillance
We, the undersigned civil society organisations, affirm our deep commitment to the goals of the Open Government Partnership,which in its declaration endorsed "more transparent,accountable,responsive effective government," founded on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We join other civil society organisations, human rights groups, academics and ordinary citizens in expressing our grave concern over allegations that governments around the world, including many OGP members, have been routinely intercepting and retaining the private communications of entire populations, in secret, without particularised warrants and with little or no meaningful oversight. Such practices allegedly include the routine exchange of "foreign" surveillance data, bypassing domestic laws that restrict governments' ability to spy on their own citizens.
These practices erode the checks and balances on which accountability depends, and have a deeply chilling effect on freedom of expression, information and association, without which the ideals of open government have no meaning.
As Brazil's President, DilmaRousseff, recently said at the United Nations, "In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy." Activities that restrict the right to privacy, including communications surveillance, can only be justified when they are prescribed by law, are necessary to achieve a legitimate aim, and are proportionate to the aim pursued.
Without firm legislative and judicial checks on the surveillance powers of the executive branch, and robust protections for the media and public interest whistleblowers, as outlined in the Tshwane Principles, abuses can and will occur. We call on all governments, and specifically OGP members, to:
* recognise the need to update understandings of existing privacy and human rights law to reflect modern surveillance technologies and techniques.
* commit in their OGP Action Plans to complete by October 2014 a review of national laws, with the aim of defining reforms needed to regulate necessary, legitimate and proportional State involvement in communications surveillance; to guarantee freedom of the press; and to protect whistleblowers who lawfully reveal abuses of state power.
* commit in their OGP Action Plans to transparency on the mechanisms for surveillance, on exports of surveillance technologies, aid directed towards implementation of surveillance technologies, and agreements to share citizen data among states.
International and regional organisations
1. ACCESS Info Europe 2. Africa Freedom of Information Centre 3. Alianza Regional por la Libre Expresión e Información 4. ARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Free Expression 5. Centre for Law and Democracy 6. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) 7. CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation 8. Global Integrity 9. Global Network Initiative 10. HIVOS 11. Oxfam International 12. Privacy International 13. World Wide Web Foundation National organisations 1. Access to Information Programme, Bulgaria 2. Acción Ciudadana, Guatemala 3. Active Citizen, Ireland 4. Africa Center for Open Governance, Kenya 5. AktionFreiheitstatt Angst e.V. (Freedom Not Fear), Germany 6. Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa, South Africa 7. Association EPAS, Romania 8. Asociación para una Sociedad Más Justa, Honduras 9. Bolo Bhi, Pakistan 10. Brazilian Society for Knowledge Management (SBGC) 11. Center for Effective Government, USA 12. Center for Independent Journalism, Romania 13. Center for Peace Studies, Croatia 14. Center for Public Interest Advocacy, Bosnia Herzegovina 15. Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos, Guatemala 16. Centro for Public Integrity, Mozambique 17. Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt, Poland 18. Charity & Security Network, USA 19. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Nigeria 20. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), USA 21. Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia 22. Corruption Watch, UK 23. DATA, Uruguay 24. Defending Dissent Foundation, USA 25. Democracy Watch, Canada 26. Digital Courage, Germany 27. Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan 28. Diritto Di Sapere, Italy 29. e-Governance Academy, Estonia 30. East European Development Institute, Poland 31. Economic Research Center, Azerbaijan 32. Federal Accountability Initiative For Reform, Canada 33. Foundation Open Society (FOSM), Macedonia 34. Foundation for Science and Liberal Arts Domus Dorpatensis, Estonia 35. Freedom of Information Center, Armenia 36. Freedom of Information Forum, Austria (FOIAustria) 37. Freedom of Information Foundation, Russia 38. Fundar, Center for Research and Analysis, Mexico 39. GESOC, Mexico 40. Global Human Rights Communications, India 41. GodlyGlobal.org, Switzerland 42. GONG, Croatia 43. Hong Kong In-Media, Hong Kong 44. Hungarian Civil Liberties Union 45. Independent Journalism Center, Moldova 46. INESC, Brazil 47. Initiative für Netzfreiheit, Austria 48. Institute for Democracy 'Societas Civilis'-Skopje (IDSCS), Macedonia 49. Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, Georgia 50. Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad A.C., Mexico 51. International Records Management Trust, UK 52. Integrity Action, UK 53. IT for Change, India 54. Iuridicum Remedium, Czech Republic 55. Media Rights Agenda, Nigeria 56. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (Association for the Empowerment of Workers and Peasants), India 57. NATO Watch, UK 58. Obong Denis Udo-Inyang Foundation, Nigeria 59. OneWorld – Platform for Southeast Europe (OWPSEE), Europe 60. openDemocracy.net, UK 61. Open Democracy Advice Centre, South Africa 62. Open Australia Foundation 63. Open Government Institute, Moldova 64. Open Ministry, Finland 65. Open the Government.org, USA 66. Open Knowledge Finland 67. Open Knowledge Foundation, UK 68. Open Knowledge Foundation Ireland 69. Open Rights Group, UK 70. Paradigm Initiative, Nigeria 71. Paraguayan Association of Information Technology Law, Paraguay 72. Philippines Internet Freedom Alliance 73. Privacy and Access Council of Canada — Conseil du Canada de l'Accès et la vie Privée 74. PRO Media, Macedonia 75. PROETICA PERU 76. Programa Estudiantil Juventud Siglo XXI, Mexico 77. Project on Government Oversight, USA 78. Public Concern at Work, UK 79. Public Virtue Institute, Indonesia 80. Publish What You Pay Indonesia 81. Request Initiative, UK 82. Sahkar Social Welfare Association, Pakistan 83. Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), University of Ottawa 84. Shaaub for Democracy Culture Foundation, Iraq 85. Social Research and Development Center, Yemen 86. Soros Foundation Romania, Romania 87. Stati Generali dell'Innovazione, Italy 88. TEDIC, Paraguay 89. Transparencia por Colombia 90. Transparency International Armenia 91. Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina 92. Transparency International Indonesia 93. Transparency International Ireland 94. Transparency International Macedonia 95. Transparency International Mongolia 96. Transparency International Switzerland 97. Unwanted Witness, Uganda 98. Water Governance Institute (WGI), Uganda 99. Whistleblowers Network, Germany 100. Youth Advocate Program International, Inc, USA 101. Zenu Network, Cameroon
1. Aruna Roy, Founder, MKSS India and member of India's National Advisory Council 2. Tim Berners-Lee 3. Vinod Rai, Former Comptroller and Auditor General, India 4. Rebecca MacKinnon 5. Satbir Singh, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Co- Chair, South Asian Right to Information Advocates Network 6. David Eaves 7. Dissanayake Dasanayaka 8. Dwight E. Hines, Ph.D 9. Ernesto Bellisario 10. Nikhil Dey 11. Petru Botnaru 12. Shankar Singh 13. Sowmya Kidambi 14. TH Schee 15. Jacques Le Roux 16. Andrei Sambra 17. Christophe Dupriez 18. Sanjana Hattotuwa 19. Morgan Marquis-Boire 20. Bouziane Zaid 21. Pehr Mårtens 22. Matthew Landauer 23. Simon Ontoyin 24. Yinglee Tseng 25. Sonigitu Ekpe 26. Frank van Harmelen 27. Phil Coates 28. Josefina Aguilar 29. Juned Sonido 30. Fatima Cambronero 31. Jonathan Hipkiss 32. Lucie Perrault 33. Bouziane Zaid 34. Per Martens 35. Simon Ontoyin 36. Morgan Marquis-Boire 37. Leila Nachawati 38. Gbenga Sesan 39. Mohamed El Gohary 40. D.M. Dissanayake 41. Sana Saleem 42. Renata Avila Pinto 43. Carolina Rossini 44. Phil Longhurst 45. Mark Townsend 46. Badouin Schombe 47. Sarah Copeland 48. Jelena Heštera 49. Brian Leekley 50. Katrin Verclas 51. Ian David 52. Judyth Mermelstein 53. Anna Myers 54. Knut Gotfredsen 55. Daniele Pitrolo 56. Nick Herbert 57. Eliana Quiroz 58. Ion Ghergheata 59. Mark Hughes 60. Elena Tudor 61. Thomas C. Ellington 62. Susan Ariel Aaronson, Ph.D. 63. Peter Gunther 64. Mark Charles Rosenzweig 65. Panthea Lee 66. Douglas Redding 67. Mark Wilhelmi 68. C. Worth 69. Sriram Sharma 70. Ben Huser 71. Zach Ross 72. Albo P Fossa 73. Ian Tolfrey 74. Jay Campbell 75. Beth Alexander 76. Crisman Richards 77. Jorge Luis Sierra 78. Linda Strasberg 79. Mawaki Chango, Ph.D. 80. Giang Dang 81. Nica Dumlau 82. Walter Keim 83. Tur-Od Lkhagvajav 84. Dr. Mridula Ghosh 85. Anthony Barnett 86. Christian Heise 87. Eduardo Vergara Lope de la Garza 88. Neide De Sordi