Edward Snowden expressed his views on Australia’s new data retention laws and pointed out that such bulk surveillance has allowed acts of terror to occur rather than foiled attacks. The world-known whistleblower said that Australia is adopting data retention legislation, which “has been proven not to work”.
Edward Snowden spoke from Moscow, saying that Australia’s role in bulk surveillance can be compared with the United Kingdom and the Tempora program, which collect everyone’s communications as part of a so-called “pre-criminal investigation”. In simple words, the surveillance outfits just watch everyone all the time. As for Australia’s outfits, they are able to search through that data not just within the country, but also share with foreign governments like the United States and United Kingdom.
It’s been a couple months that the Australia’s metadata laws had been passed to require telcos to store data on their customers for up to 24 months. According to the federal government, this measure can help fight terrorism. Edward Snowden argued that such laws were a radical departure from the operation of traditional liberal societies. Despite the fact that the company only collect metadata rather than content itself, it can still act as a proxy for content.
Edward Snowden brought a few examples, saying that mass surveillance hadn’t stopped such terrorist acts as the Sydney siege, the Boston marathon bombings or Charlie Hebdo. Snowden said that perhaps the governments missed these attacks because they had too much data to process without prioritizing. In addition, too many resources are wasted on spying on people who didn’t present a threat. The former NSA contractor suggested that governments should cooperate in order to avoid choosing between surveillance and security.
In the meantime, the US federal court ruled that mass storage of telephone data was illegal, and Edward Snowden called this decision “very significant”, as it could lead to further legal challenges of mass surveillance.
Greens senator Scott Ludlam, when discussing this issue with Edward Snowden, explained that intelligence agencies in the country operate with the “bare minimum of scrutiny” and pointed out that the debate in Australia is very stifled.