In addition to the Research Library covering at least 30 countries, Blueprint for Free Speech also contributes to providing information about specific legislative proposals. In this way Blueprint’s research library can be translated into directly contributing to informing public debate on freedom of expression issues as they emerge.
Here is a catalogue of some submissions Blueprint has researched and authored. Click links to download.
Open Government Australia – March 2016
Blueprint’s submission proposes critical reforms to Australia’s Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Cth)
Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet – Australia – March 2016
Blueprint’s submission to the Department of PM&C is in line with the review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Cth). Blueprint was a strong advocate for the passage of the legislation and continues to advocate for its improvement, some elements of which needed to be fixed from the time of enactment and others which have become apparent in the ensuing time.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in respect of Section 35P of ASIO Act 1979 (Cth) (Australia)
Blueprint’s submission strongly criticises the proposal to revoke citizenship of particular Australian citizens.
Submission to Althingi in support of re-proposed Whistleblowing Law
As part of Blueprint’s long term campaigning the passage of legislation for the protection of whistleblowers in Iceland, Blueprint submitted further arguments in support of the Bill.
Independent National Security Legislation Monitor in respect of Section 35P of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO Act)
Blueprint’s submission focuses on our opposition to the criminalisation of journalism resulting from the passage of Section 35P of the ASIO Act. This section introduces an offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison for reporting about matters that relate to a ‘special intelligence operation’ – a particular type of self-described ASIO operation. This submission, to one of the oversight bodies concerned with national security regulation, follows a submission Blueprint made to the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security in 2014 where we stated our opposition to the concept of SIOs themselves.
Read the submission here: BP – Submission to the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor
Defence Export Control Office: submission in respect of the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2015 (DTCB) amending the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA)
Blueprint’s submission outlines its concerns about the DTCA, specifically its potential limits on freedom of speech and the freedom of academia.
The DTCA was passed in 2012 with a two year transition period. It is due to come into force in May 2015. Currently before the Australian parliament is the DTCB, a Bill to amend the draconian DTCA. Although it makes some improvement to the original Act, there are still some serious concerns about the impact the legislation will have on freedom of speech in the Australian academic community.
In order to prevent a ‘brain drain’ due to Australia’s top academics leaving the country, and to respect the freedom academia should enjoy, Blueprint urges the Commonwealth Government to adopt our recommendations.
We present the following draft submission for circulation purposes and welcome comments from the public.
Blueprint submitted to the Swedish government regarding a proposal to introduce whistleblower protection laws for Swedish employees. While Sweden’s big step in developing this legislation should be supported, the submission also sets out a number of issues including a continuing focus on an employee’s duty of loyalty to their employer, carve-outs for the security and intelligence sector and giving unions the power to negotiate away whistleblower protection rights.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security of the Australian Commonwealth – 2014
Blueprint researched proposed amendments to national security legislation including proposals which would criminalise journalism, bring in more severe penalties for whistleblowing and authorize wide and intrusive investigatory powers.
Read the submission here: BP – Submission to PJCIS re National Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2014
Blueprint provided research regarding amendments to the draft Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill.
Blueprint researched proposed powers of the Australian Federal Police in relation to non criminal matters.
Senate Legal and Constitutional Law Committee of the Australian Commonwealth Parliament – 2014
Blueprint analysed proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act including data retention to explain their impact on freedom of speech.
Blueprint wrote a submission in relation to SA ICAC’s role in matters related to whistleblower protection.
Blueprint wrote a submission regarding ways to improve protections for whistleblower protection, to encourage an improved climate of free speech and thus reduce wrongdoing.
Blueprint researched issues around the impact on digital privacy and data sovereignty with a view to preventing a chilling effect on freedom of speech.
Read more here: BP – Submission to ALRC re Privacy
Blueprint provided its analysis of the protections needed for whistleblowers in the private sector.
Read more here: BP – Submission to ASIC
PCAW requested Blueprint to prepare a submission on the impact of public interest disclosure legislation in the UK, suggesting any potential law reform and providing analysis of the current operation of the PIDA in the UK.
Read more here: BP – Submission to PCAW Whistleblowing Commission
Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Australia) – 2012 – 2013
Blueprint actively contributed research and the preparation of the introduction of a comprehensive whistleblower protection regime for Commonwealth public servants in Australia. As part of the assistance, Blueprint gave oral evidence to both the lower house Social and Legal Affairs Committee and the upper house Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. In addition to the oral evidence, Blueprint provided two written submissions to the lower house and one submission to the upper house.
The Bill successfully passed into law in June 2013, creating benchmark legislation worldwide for whistleblower protection.
- First Lower House submission – Submission to Social and Legal Affairs Committee re PID Bills
- Second Lower house submission – Blueprint for Free Speech – Further Submission to Social and Legal Affairs Committee re PID Bills
- Senate submission – BP – Submission to Senate Committee re PID Bill 2013
In addition to the reform of public interest disclosure legislation at the federal level, the ACT continued the trend of State governments in Australia to reform whistleblowing legislation for their Territory’s public servants.
Blueprint was requested to provide a submission on the implementation of the Act.
Read more here: Submission to ACT Implementation of PID Act 2013
Transparency International (Worldwide, MENA) – 2012
Blueprint has assisted Transparency International, the largest anti-corruption and transparency NGO in the world with expertise on particular projects, including the development of their whistleblower protection principles. Blueprint has also provided expert research support to their work documenting public interest disclosure protections through the Middle East and North Africa region.
Inquiry into Potential Reforms of National Security Legislation (Australia) – 2012
In July 2012 the Australian Federal Labor Government introduced a discussion paper to update, among other legislation, the Telecommunications Interception Act. Broadly, the discussion paper was hinting at increasing the ability of law enforcement agencies to gain better and easier access to telecommunications information and data of Australians. One of the most controversial proposals was for the introduction of a compulsory data retention regime for a period up to 2 years. Such schemes can have a chilling effect on freedom of speech, thereby reducing citizens’ freedom of expression.
Blueprint engaged in research on the subject and contributed to informing the public about the proposed reforms and the committee process. For example, Blueprint committed resources to ensure live reporting from the hearings via social media to ensure the public was properly informed about the proceedings. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security invited Blueprint to make both a written and an oral submission to the committee, which it did in September 2012. Following the oral submission, Blueprint was invited to provide additional materials, for which it obliged.
In May 2013, the Federal Labor Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, announced that no further movement on the proposed reforms was to take place for the time being. It was a significant victory against increasing surveillance and for freedom of speech.
- The written submission – Blueprint for Free Speech – Inquiry into Potential Reforms of National Security Legislation Final
- The additional materials – Blueprint Submission – Additional Materials
Following the financial crisis in Iceland and the increased pressure for governmental accountability and transparency reforms in that country, a whistleblowing protection bill was introduced into the Icelandic parliament (Althingi) in early 2013 (Iceland’s national parliament, Althingi, is incidentally the oldest continuing parliament in the world).
In February 2013, BP was asked to provide a written submission to the parliament critiquing the bill, which it did.
Following the elections in May 2013, the government has since changed on the forming of a new coalition and the Bill is waiting to be passed by the members. The Bill is awaiting passage by Althingi and efforts to achieve this are ongoing.
Read more here: Blueprint for Free Speech- Submission to Althingi re PID Bill