Fresh concerns over electronic monitoring measures, expert

Fresh concerns over electronic monitoring measures, expert

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As security agencies in Western Australia were given permission to monitor people during quarantine, security experts say these measures should not outlast the pandemic.

In the light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government announced on April 2 a new set of laws that include a $17.8 million expansion of police tracking and tracing capabilities.

About 200 electronic ankle bracelets with GPS tracking capability were provided to WA Police and 100 mobile intelligence cameras also known as Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology.

The new bill also removes the right to silence, allowing officers to compel a person to give relevant information, such as where they travelled to and who they have been in contact with.

While these measures are the Government’s response to the health crisis, researchers pointed out that the updated state’s Emergency Management Act only guarantees that some amendments have an expiry date at the end of the emergency.

A Curtin University information security expert Dr Nik Thompson said it was unlikely that some of these measures remained temporary.

“These kinds of temporary measures have a habit of outlasting the emergency,” he said.

A State Government spokesperson said these laws allow for the electronic monitoring of persons in quarantine in extraordinary circumstances.

“The devices are only for use for quarantine purposes during a declared State of Emergency and only if the State Emergency coordinator is satisfied, it’s necessary to monitor the location of someone during a quarantine period,” he said.

“The use of electronic monitoring has been part of the justice system in Western Australia for many years for certain offender cohorts such as dangerous sex offenders.

“A judicial officer, such as a judge, determines whether electronic monitoring can be applied.”