Monday, December 02, 2013

Australia offered to spy on its own citizens

The latest NSALeak: Australia's Defence Signals Directorate offered to spy on their own citizens:

Australia's surveillance agency offered to share information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, according to a secret 2008 document leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The document shows the partners discussing whether or not to share "medical, legal or religious information", and increases concern that the agency could be operating outside its legal mandate, according to the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC.

The Australian intelligence agency, then known as the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), indicated it could share bulk material without some of the privacy restraints imposed by other countries, such as Canada.

"DSD can share bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national," notes from an intelligence conference say. "Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue."

The offer was made at a meeting of "Five Eyes" partners in the UK in 2008. GCSB was in attendance, which invites the obvious question: what did the GCSB offer? And what have they ended up sharing?

(It would of course have been illegal for GCSB to offer and share anything, as it would involve intercepting the communications of New Zealand persons. But we already know that the GCSB had "reinterpreted" the law to exclude metadata, in apparent violation of Parliamentary intent. And now John Key has legalised that practice, rewriting the law so that it excludes only "private" communications. Law changes like that happen for a reason - and the obvious reason is to provide legal certainty to an existing program of bulk metadata collection and sharing).