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This week at CoronaCheck, we spoke to experts about allegations that scanning QR codes and confirming vaccination requirements is illegal.
We also gather the latest climate fact checks and report on the "Toxic Ten" - a group of digital publishers responsible for nearly two-thirds of online misinformation about climate change.
Are the QR code and proof of vaccination legal?
On social media platforms, users claim that companies' mandatory scanning of QR codes, which are used to support Covid-19 contact tracing, is actually against the law.
“This requirement is illegal and leaves my business vulnerable to prosecution,” reads a typical Facebook post.
Among the laws cited by social media users as proof of the illegality of scanning QR codes are sections of the Commonwealth Privacy Act and the Constitution.
Others, however, cite the Nuremberg Code, as well as the Australian Persons with Disabilities Discrimination Act and Biosafety Act, to argue that requiring some states to provide proof of vaccination status to enter businesses also violates the law.
But do these laws make it illegal to scan QR codes and confirm vaccination requirements? We spoke to the experts to find out.
Check-in via QR code
In combination,Commonwealth Privacy Act Section 94H(1)it serves as a simple defense as it is not necessary to show the QR code at check-in.
Under a provision that was added to the law last year, employers are not allowed to fire employees if they refuse to download the COVIDSafe app — a contact tracing tool widely criticized by the federal government that nearly got fired.abandoned.
This section does not make it illegal for businesses to display a QR code as part of public health orders, nor does it relate to state government check-in apps (such as the Service NSW and Service Victoria apps).
Another law regularly cited by those opposing QR scrutiny is Art. 51.5 of the Australian Constitution, which gives the federal government the power to legislate in relation to telecommunications.
This is often misinterpreted to mean that only the federal government can legislate on cell phones and the states cannot.
However, Joellen Riley Munton, former Dean of the University of Sydney School of Law, told Fact Check that this view reflects a "misunderstanding of Australian constitutional law".
“Article 51 of the Constitution gives the Commonwealth the power to legislate on telecommunications, but does not deprive the states of their full power to legislate any law,” wrote Dr Riley Munton via email.
“Mere state law that is inconsistent with existing federal law will be ineffective.
“In any case, the requirements for QR codes can easily be characterized as public health regulations as they are a tool to help with contact tracing. States certainly have the power to issue public health mandates.”
Proof of vaccination status
Arguments about the legality of proof of vaccination requirements were also refuted.
ONuremberg Code, drawn up in 1947 in response to deadly medical experiments carried out by the Nazis during World War II, is widely cited as a reason for circumventing vaccination requirements.
However, the Code applies to medical trials, not Covid-19 vaccinations.many auditors involvedstates that many public health orders related to the pandemic are illegal.
Other social media users cited your sections 4 and 6Disability Discrimination Lawobject to being required to disclose vaccination status in order to maintain employment or enter the facility.
However, according to former Tasmanian anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks, the "very important point" of the bill is that it only protects people with disabilities.
"[It] doesn't offer protection if... you're not incapacitated," Banks told Fact Check.
Section 4 of the Act simply lists the definitions used in practice – it does not provide a legal argument as to why a person should not disclose vaccination status.
Meanwhile, art. Article 6 states that indirect discrimination based on disability is illegal. For example, a disabled person is obliged to do something that he cannot fulfill.
However, for discrimination to occur, Ms Banks explained, the person must be able to demonstrate that they are less able to meet the requirement because of their disability, and the requirement must be “unreasonable” in the circumstances.
Ms Banks said that at this point arguments against proof of vaccination requirements have failed.
“Vaccination status does not easily fit the definition of disability, nor does being unvaccinated,” he said.
"I see no basis for arguing that not being vaccinated constitutes a disability under disability discrimination laws."
It added that "requiring an individual to disclose their vaccination status may be reasonable in many circumstances, as it may be a necessary part of measures needed to reduce community transmission of a deadly and highly contagious airborne virus."
After all,Section 95 of the Biosafety Act, which states that “no force should be used against individuals to require them to comply with biosecurity measures”, “also played no role in relation to individuals who refuse to disclose their vaccination status”, says Banks.
“Provides protection against the use of force for such violations, except in specific circumstances, such as requiring [a person] to undergo testing for a specific human disease, providing specific body samples, requiring that he remain in a specific location or not visit a specific location. specific location or places.
"Article 95... does not appear to have a direct bearing on whether a person's vaccination status can be verified."
in other news
Classification of fictional events in Glasgow
With the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in Glasgow this week, fact-checkers across the world have been busy debunking climate misinformation.
Those from Reuters, for example,was foundthat statements made by climate skeptic Maurice Newman in an op-ed published six years ago in The Australian were taken out of context on the internet to give the impression that the Australian politician called climate change a "UN hoax" to create a "New world order ".
According to Reuters, the internet posts come from a 2015 Russian state media report, which also noted that while Newman was the chairman of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's business advisory board, he was not a politician.
Furthermore, the views expressed by Mr. Newman were personal views and were "contrary to the scientific consensus on climate change."
Reuters toohe lookedsays UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson used the Glasgow summit to commit to phasing out money to cut emissions.
However, fact-checkers determined that these claims were based on a misunderstanding of Johnson's slogan "coal, cars, money and trees", with the monetary element referring to funding initiatives to fight climate change, not to a plan to eliminate the money. payments from the public.
The fact check hashe had previously rejected similar claimssuggesting that the New South Wales government planned to force residents to transfer money to a "virtual wallet" by mid-2022, which would then be used instead of cash to buy goods and services.
Meanwhile, the BBC is doing a reality check this week.heavycomments by climate activist Greta Thunberg, who denied claims that the UK has cut emissions by 44% since 1990;
According to the BBC, the 44 percent reduction was for “territorial emissions” – emissions that occur within a country's borders, including emissions from exports but excluding emissions from international aviation, shipping and imports.
Terrestrial emissions data are widely used by governments to report their emissions, including under the Kyoto Protocol.
However, figures for 'consumer emissions', a measure of goods produced abroad and imported into the UK, show that the country's carbon footprint is estimated to have declined by 26% between 1997 and 2018.
How the “Toxic Dozen” of Digital Publishers Fuel Misinformation About Climate Change
ONEnew exhibitionA study by the Center to Combat Digital Hate (CCDH) – an international organization that monitors hate and misinformation online – found that 10 “fringe publishers” on the Internet are responsible for 69 percent of digital denials of climate change.
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The far-right US news website Breitbart led a list of “super polluters” that also included Newsmax, The Washington Times and Russian state-owned media outlets such as RT.com and Sputnik News.
According to the report, engagement with Facebook posts linking to content from the 10 identified sites accounted for more than two-thirds of all Facebook interactions with content that denies climate change.
By creating content on social media platforms aimed at sowing skepticism about climate change, the Toxic Ten pages created the impression that "the discussion is broader than it actually is," noted the CCDH.
“They spread baseless and unscientific climate change denial on their websites, but the real aim is to use the power of social media platforms to spread this skepticism among the public and prevent consensus on facts and solutions – even if our lives depend on it. them". Reference found.
And although Facebook promised in March 2021 that it would start linking the correct information in such posts, only 8% of Toxic Ten's most popular climate misinformation posts contained these tags.
The report also noted that Toxic Ten, which reached 186 million followers across social media platforms, was partially funded by Google advertising revenue, generating up to $5.3 million in total in six months.
CCHR posted previouslyreportto the “Dzinformation Dozen,” a group of social media influencers responsible for about two-thirds of anti-vaccine content online.
Edited byEllen McCutchanthanks to Fae O'Toole and Matt Harvey
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