New revelations increase pressure for surveillance inquiry

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon push for senate inquiry into spying on Australian citizens.

The two major parties are opposing an inquiry despite disturbing new revelations from Edward Snowden. Today's revelations about coordinated mass-surveillance of ordinary citizens will increase the pressure on the Australian Government to come to the table with transparency and reform proposals without delay.

"The publication of documents in which Australian spy agency DSD (now ASD) quite casually proposes to share 'unminimised' metadata obtained without a warrant with affiliated agencies overseas, implies that the agency may have been breaching Australian law for five years," said Australian Greens spokesperson on Communications, Senator Scott Ludlam.

"As Geoffrey Robertson QC points out, this would be in breach of sections 8 and 12 of the IntelligenceĀ Services Act 2001. The agency has the obligation to destroy 'unintentionally' obtained on Australians; instead, these discussions show the DSD contemplating sharing with overseas agencies and non-intelligence agencies.

"These documents are five years old: there is an urgent need to establish what practices, if any, govern this indiscriminate data collection on law-abiding Australians.

"The Government can no longer avoid the issues and hide behind platitudes that everything is done in accordance with the law. It is the job of this Parliament to conduct a full inquiry, as is happening in many other countries around the world." (Source: Sen Ludlam media statement)

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Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), Australia's leading voice for Digital Rights since 1994, today calls on the Federal Government to instigate an independent inquiry into the activities of Australian intelligence agencies and their compliance with relevant legislation.

The most recent revelation from NSA-whistleblower, Edward Snowden, published in The Guardian, about a 'Five Eyes' information sharing meeting held at Britain's GCHQ in April 2008, displays an apparent willingness on the part of the (then) Defence Signals Directorate to share bulk data with their Five Eyes partner agencies that would almost certainly include information about Australian citizens.

As Geoffrey Robertson QC has noted in an opinion piece in The Guardian today, if the actions discussed in the released memo took place, it "would be a breach of sections 8 and 12 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001."