Anna Johnston headshot

Anna Johnston – Salinger Privacy

Anna Johnstone is the Principal of Salinger Privacy.



This audio discusses:

Anna’s reflections of getting to meet in person various people she has met over social media and through other advocacy. People from diverse backgrounds, technology, community, lawyers, cryptographers.

Privacy is a universal human right, but that doesn’t necessarily have a particular meaning for people. Rather it’s a value, and that gets measured and demonstrated in different ways. The anti privacy discourse is incorrect, but it shaped the political and media narrative, and attitudes are changing. The power of corporates and governments to impact on lives is being made much clearer. The challenge for people who care about these issues is how they organise and advocate, persuade governments and organisations to do better.

The Australian Privacy Principles and the Privacy Act come from the same principles as GDPR, the differences are at the margin. The practical difference are the penalties and the enforcement. Under GDPR regulators are funded and they can pursue strategic litigation. Typically in Australia our privacy regulators are very poorly funded, they don’t necessarily have the same powers as other regulators. It’s very difficult for civil society to bring forward cases to bring change. We are yet to see changes in government and corporate practices.

Forming coalitions with people that have been affected by a loss of privacy is important in helping to understand the problems. Communities that can talk to lived experience living under authoritarian regimes where government surveillance and national identity cards had been affected was important in building awareness of the impact of digital identity card policy (for example). Having something to hide is what makes us individuals, and gives us control over our own lives, we each have some sphere of our lives that we want to keep private and autonomous.

Human rights are not necessarily concrete or tangible. Facial recognition and capitalist surveillance systems, where our data is worth money. Companies are using Facebook to exclude advertising of jobs, insurance, and services to certain groups, this reinforces discrimination.