• Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites

  • Digital Rights, News - Written by on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 13:33 - 1 Comment

    Global privacy group files formal ASD complaint


    news Global privacy organisation Privacy International has filed a formal complaint with Australia’s Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security over a report that the Australian Signals Directorate had offered to hand over data on Australian citizens to foreign intelligence agencies.

    In an associated move, the Australian Privacy Foundation has also backed calls for a wide-ranging inquiry into Australia’s surveillance activities, as well as the restructure of the Australian Signals Directorate.

    On Monday The Guardian published documents sourced from NSW whistleblower Snowden which purported to show that the ASD, Australia’s peak electronic intelligence agency, had offered to share detailed information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners.

    Subsequently, QC and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson published an opinionated article arguing that the ASD had broken the law in offering the data to Australia’s international partners. The news has also created outrage in Australia’s digital rights community, with organisations such as the Greens, Electronic Frontiers Australia and the Pirate Party Australia calling for a full-scale parliamentary inquiry into surveillance practices.

    In a statement released overnight, Privacy International noted that it had filed a complaint with the Australian Inspector-General of Intelligence Security, calling for an immediate investigation into what it described as “deeply troubling reports that the Australian intelligence services offered to violate the privacy rights of millions of citizens by handing over bulk metadata to its Five Eye partners”. The Five Eyes network refers to Australia, the US, the UK, New Zealand and Canada.

    Carly Nyst, Head of International Advocacy said at Privacy International said: “The offer by ASD to secretly handover bulk data on Australians to be mined and analysed at will by their intelligence partners is one of the clearest signs yet that the members of the shadowy Five Eyes alliance consider themselves ultimately answerable to no-one but themselves.”

    “By operating in secret, the Australian government has moved from being endowed with defending fundamental rights to seeing them as insignificant. Secret agreements such as these need to be scrutinised in the light of day to ensure they are adequately protecting the rights of Australian citizens. The Inspector-General must now open an investigation to establish to what extent ASD has compromised the rights of Australians in favour of serving their Five Eyes masters, and conduct a comprehensive and frank review in order to restore credibility to the government’s claims that they have Australians’ best interests at heart.”

    Delimiter has contacted the office of the Inspector-General multiple times over the past several days to invite comment on the issue, but no comment has of yet been forthcoming.

    Privacy International said it was “plainly obvious” that the ASD was violating its own rules to protect the privacy of Australians, as well as the Intelligence Services Act 2001, which prescribes that “an agency must not undertake any activity unless the activity is necessary for the proper performance of is functions; or authorised or required by or under another Act.”

    With the launch of Privacy International’s “Eyes Wide Open” campaign last week, the organisation filed numerous Freedom of Information requests in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, seeking to obtain information on the Five Eyes arrangement.

    “In almost record fashion”, Australia immediately refused to turn over any information regarding the alliance, Privacy International aid. “Given the latest reports, Privacy International in its complaint to the Inspector-General urged the office to obtain and publish documents related to the Five Eyes Arrangement.”

    Separately, the Australian Privacy Foundation has also expressed its disappointment with regard to the ASD allegations.

    In a statement and background paper issued overnight (PDF), the APF called for “a substantial, independent review of surveillance activities”, “visible action” on the issue by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, the Human Rights Commissioner, and the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioners and the creation of “meaningful controls” over Australia’s national security agencies.

    The APF also called for the removal of the civilian security advisory group from ASD, and conversion of ASD into a controlled military and national security Signals Intelligence Agency.

    “A great many signs point to the need to have a full and open inquiry in order to establish how we got into this mess, and what can be done to get the behaviour of intelligence agencies back under democratic control,” wrote APF chair Roger Clarke in the statement.

    The news comes as the Australian Labor Party has given the first tentative sign that it may be open to working with the Greens on the terms of a wide-reaching parliamentary inquiry into electronic surveillance practices in Australia.

    submit to reddit

    1 Comment

    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

    1. John
      Posted 05/12/2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink | Reply

      “On Monday The Guardian published documents sourced from NSW whistleblower Snowden which purported to show that the ASD”

      NSA whistleblower maybe?

    Leave a Comment


  • Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:

    Follow us on social media

    Use your RSS reader to subscribe to our articles feed or to our comments feed.

  • Most Popular Content

  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT

    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications

    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry

    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights