Extract: George Brandis today said that “Bloggers are not Journalists” meaning they don’t need the same protection. It’s probably worth investigating the number of bloggers killed in the “Line of Duty”…

Today, George Brandis Attorney General for Australia stated that “bloggers are not journalists” in regard to the #metadata debate (Government accessing Big Data vs Privacy debate).

Bloggers therefore don’t have the same rights to protection of data, protection of sources and one assumes – as that’s where it does lead – to protection of life itself.

If you remember that our Prime Minister considers all social media as “electronic graffiti” you can see why the Department of Digital Economy focusses less on bringing Australia into the global collaborative economy and more on spying on citizens and Google Adwords taxes. But back to the key point: do bloggers need protection even from their own government?  

And while the Committee to Protect Journalists does an outstanding job of protecting journalists from abduction, imprisonment and assassination as well as free speech for all, how can they protect the bloggers when even the Australian Government doesn’t respect bloggers?

Brandis Declares War on The Australian Public… …and on Whistleblowers

Social Media is THE voice of the Australian people, the Australian voters. Social Media is NOT electronic graffiti, or really anything other than people talking about what concerns them. Bloggers speak for their community, Facebook updates herald shifts in opinions,  twitter tweets represent the Will of the People. Only politicians don’t like the Will of the People, in fact, can’t abide it (we’re not very polite). 

Now in some senses I agree with Brandis on his statement:

“The target are criminals, paedophiles and terrorists. Journalists are not the object of the law,” Brandis said.

I think that’s correct – Journalists are not the object of the law. It’s actually Social Media. Social Media is the object of the law, bloggers are the object of the law. Or at least the Julian Assange/Wikileaks version of blogging/social media is the object of the law. Brandis parrotting the USA on Assange is pretty telling of how much of a criminal, sexual predator and terrorist he believes Assange to be (read: Sky News amongst others). You can’t shut up dissenters if the law doesn’t back you up. Time to change a few laws. Note: I am NOT saying the Press don’t need to be protected – Australia currently rank 28th between Ghana and Suriname for our press “freedoms” and we’re heading DOWN the list.  I just think trashing bloggers as armchair critics diminishes the lives given by bloggers that could’ve/should’ve been protected. And we may need those bloggers in the future. Read on…

Do Bloggers Need Protection?

Let’s look at a basic premise about bloggers – that they are armchair critics and keyboard warriors (said sneeringly) – and no need to protect their metadata. No need to protect them at all (freedoms, voice, data, metadata, life) as they are bloggers, not journalists? A few weeks ago, Dr Avijit Roy, an atheist American blogger was attending a book fair in Dhaka. He was attacked and killed in front of his wife by machete wielding thugs while the Police looked on. blogger killed roy avijit

Blogger Killed Over Religion “Avijit’s killing follows a string of attacks on secular bloggers in recent years in the Muslim-majority nation. Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.” The Guardian Bloggers are not Journalists.

Would that have happened – not the attack, but Police standing by – to a journalist with a Press badge and the protection of a Heritage media masthead? Probably not…

In Greece,  Sokratis Giolias was blogging on corruption. Shot in front of his pregnant wife. Bloggers are not Journalists.

In Mexico an administrative assistant for a media company used Twitter and her blog to investigate drug cartels. Marisol Macías Castañeda under the pseudonym of NenaDLaredo blogged extensively and revealingly, until she was decapitated and her head placed on a well known statue monument in the city. Pseudonymity didn’t protect her. Bloggers are not Journalists.

Also, an anti-cartel blogger who wrote under pseudonym Rascatripas (“Belly Scratcher”) was found beheaded with a note: This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks. Bloggers are not Journalists.

The challenge going forward is that bloggers are seen as terrorists, dissidents and activists. They are “embedded” in the culture – unlike a  journalist they can’t be evicted or brought home by the parent company.

But Australia Doesn’t Need These Protections… right?

But Australia isn’t China right? Or Iran, or Mexico or Brazil or Vietnam or Mauritania or Dhaka or … right? Well let me leave you with a few thoughts: The challenge with metadata, privacy and freedom of information is that the mechanism of Government is itself shrouded in secrecy.

“How can you pass a law on freedom of information, without releasing any information about it?” Usamah Mohamed, a Sudanese blogger, told the Committee to Protect Journalists. He added: “They made it very clear that a lot of information is going to remain classified. They have codified this law so they can go after the press if they cross the line.” (Last month)

Bloggers don’t need to worry their pretty little heads about metadata, right? Applies to Australia too!

Because, you know,  this Government has a history of gagging Australians. Who can forget this debacle – the Office of the Prime Minister forcing staff to dob in other staff that use social media, even anonymously. (Canberra times, social media government). Oopsie, I forgot, the Government Public Service social media policy for staff is now SECRET. By the way, in America it’s illegal to stop a staff member criticising their employer on social media, here it’s big trouble if you don’t dob in a mate doing exactly that!

Don’t even mention the TPP. … Oops, now I’m on a list and being tracked. Metadata will reveal all  – you don’t need all my data to tell that I visit certain offices and Universities each week.

Wikileaks has been banned/blocked in Australia a few times. It is also illegal to simply link/tweet/Facebook to a Wikileaks article on certain issues (Big Business corruption not real national security stuff). Notice that NO-ONE is linking to that article (I had to go to Wikileaks and then down to July 2014 to read it for myself) not even me! If our data is being used to track us for discussing issues before Government WHEN should we think about metadata laws?If linking to whistleblowers is already illegal WHEN do you think we should start protecting freedoms?  Pfft. It’s already too late.  

IMAGE: screenshot of part of the data collected by Committee for Protection of Journalists. 

This Article is Dedicated to the Journalists AND Bloggers that appear on this list. Bloggers are not Journalists.