Australian Spy Agency Willing to Share Raw Data on Citizens Without Privacy Restraints
December 4, 2013 2:15 PM
The DSD offered to share information with major intelligence partners as well as non-intelligence agencies
Edward Snowden strikes again with more revelations on
, but this time, he's calling out Australia.
According to a new report from
, former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor
leaked a confidential document that shows how an Australian spy agency offered to share bulk information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with major intelligence partners --
The 2008 document was constructed by Australian intelligence agency, then known as the Defence Signals Directorate (it's now called the Australian Signals Directorate) along with the other 5-Eyes countries, which include the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
The DSD joined the rest of the 5-Eyes to discuss what could and what could not be shared at a meeting hosted by Britain’s GCHQ at its headquarters in Cheltenham from April 22-23, 2008. The document revealed by Snowden is part of the notes taken at that meeting.
The document, which seems to be a working draft marked "secret," said DSD could share information about Australian citizens such as medical, legal or religious info in its raw state without redactions for the sake of privacy.
"DSD can share bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national," said the notes from the intelligence conference. "Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue."
This sort of data can reveal a lot about a person without privacy restraints, and for ordinary Australian citizens that are caught in the net of bulk data collection without any real reason, this can be very intrusive.
However, the notes did say that a warrant was required if specific information was to be addressed further beyond just bulk collection.
“However, if a ‘pattern of life’ search detects an Australian then there would be a need to contact DSD and ask them to obtain a ministerial warrant to continue," said the notes.
Edward Snowden [SOURCE: VentureBeat]
Leaving data in its raw state could pose a big problem. Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said such acts by the DSD would be a breach of sections eight and 12 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001. The act says that ministerial authorisation is required if the data of an Australian citizen is involved, and that the citizen must be a "person of interest."
It was also revealed that the DSD would share information with major intelligence partners as well as non-intelligence agencies, such as the Australian federal police.
Snowden first called out the NSA earlier this year, saying its spying methods consisted of bulk data collection from sources like phone records, where the government took on a "collect now, filter later" approach. he agency has said that the bulk data collection was meant to
identify terrorist threats
, but it's been discovered that the data of Americans has been collected without any clear evidence of terrorist links.
In fact, Democratic Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.) filed a brief last week in support of a lawsuit that aims to
end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records
, saying that a more "targeted" form of surveillance would be more effective.
In August, reports said that the NSA admitted to
touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic
. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to
give him their login credentials and passwords
while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.
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