Edward Snowden says Australia’s surveillance laws are dangerous 41



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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden spoke on Friday from Moscow via satellite about Australia’s data retention laws and warns they are dangerous, insisting that instead of keeping our communities safe from terror, they are allowing these acts to occur.

The laws Australia has adopted “have been proven not to work”.

“Australia’s role in mass surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora program,” Snowden said via satellite from Moscow, reports The Guardian.

“They’ll collect everyone’s communications, it’s called pre-criminal investigation, which means they are watching everyone all the time. They can search through that information not just in Australia but also share with overseas governments such as the US and UK. And it happens without oversight”.

After much controversy, Australia’s metadata laws were passed in March which have given the green light to telecoms to store customer information for up to two years, in an effort to combat terrorism. Snowden says this is a broken model and such laws are a “radical departure from the operation of traditional liberal societies around the world”.

Speaking for the Progress 2015 conference on Friday evening, Snowden said “The impacts of metadata can’t be overstated, they are collecting data on everyone regardless of wrongdoing. When you have metadata, it’s a proxy for content, so when politicians split hairs about metadata you should be very sceptical”.

He pointed out that the proverbial ‘Big Brother’ had not stopped the Sydney siege and other terror attacks in recent times.

“These were people who have a long record and the reason these attacks happened isn’t because we didn’t have enough surveillance, it’s that we had too much,” he said. “We didn’t prioritise because we’d wasted too many resources watching people who didn’t present a threat”.

The former NSA computer contractor, currently living in Moscow to avoid extradition to the USA, believes we need to avoid living in a world that values surveillance over security.

Interestingly, Snowden tore down on Australia’s attorney general, George Brandis, claiming he “doesn’t even know what metadata is”.

He said something very poignant indeed, and it makes you think: people who say they don’t worry about their privacy because they have nothing to hide “is like saying I don’t care about free speech because I have nothing to say”.


Tell us, do you agree with Edward Snowden? Should we be living in a ‘police state’ with surveillance on our every move and what we’re doing online? Or is it OK when you have nothing to hide? Is it more about the principle?

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  1. Still say it does not matter to me in anyway shape or form. I do not have anything to hide and if all this helps to find the bad people and stop bad things happening here then it is the best thing…..

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  2. I dont know if I agree with him but he does make some good points, including the one about out own politicians not understanding what metadata is, which is something that occurred to even this computer newby. I like the old adage that bad things happen because good people do nothing – I suspect this could be the case when considering our privacy.

  3. Snowden has more information than us, but the Government seems to want to get into every corners of our lives..freedom is lost

  4. It’s a very expensive joke out OUR expense that will achieve absolutely nothing!! Terrorists and drug cartels etc. will simply use data encryption and VPN to hide all their Internet activity so that it can’t be monitored by anybody… 🙁

  5. How very right he is. Not only is it an invasion of privacy, it’s a collective issue of everything that is personally ours. We need people like Snowden to keep us, the man on the street, notified on dishonest moves by governments etc. In all honesty, this is why consecutive governments in this country have not assisted Julian Assange, possibly knowing he will expose them continuously.

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  6. Should we worry about the American traitor living in Moscow? I wouldn’t take the slightest bit if notice of him. The only secrets he exposed were American or other Western countries…he should try exposing Russian or Chinese secrets and see what happens to him…he,d be pleading for extradition to America. I,m comfortable with what our security people are getting what they need to keep Australia safe.

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