Edward Snowden has branded the new data retention law recently introduced by the Australian government as “dangerous”, and points to the ineffectiveness of mass surveillance, saying that it didn’t stop the Sydney siege, the Boston marathon bombings, or the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in Paris.
Snowden, the man who revealed the extent of the mass surveillance program run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) by leaking confidential information back in 2013, was speaking to a Melbourne audience at the Progress 2015 conference via video chat from Moscow.
“Australia’s role in mass surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora program,” Snowden said. “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.”
Australia started collecting and storing citizen’s telecommunications metadata in March this year, a move designed to combat terrorism, according to the government. Telecoms companies are required to store the data for up to two years. Snowden calls this collection process, which does not discriminate between law-abiding citizens and criminals, a fruitless invasion of privacy that does nothing to prevent terrorist atrocities.
“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,” said Snowden.
With the empty counter-terrorism defence reeled out by politicians again, how much longer can politicians get away with perpetuating that untruth to justify violating human rights?
Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.