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

  • Renai's other site: Sci-fi + fantasy book news and reviews
  • RSS Renai LeMay

  • Digital Rights, News - Written by on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 12:48 - 2 Comments

    Labor open to surveillance discussion


    news 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.

    Earlier this week, using documents sourced from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Guardian revealed that Australia’s peak electronic intelligence agency the Australian Signals Directorate offered to share detailed information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, in moves that at least one high-profile lawyer said may have breached Australian law.

    Subsequently, the Greens and a number of other organisations concerned with digital rights issues renewed their call for a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry to be set up into the use of electronic surveillance techniques by Australia’s intelligence agencies.

    Historically, both Labor and the Coalition have rebuffed any efforts by the nation’s digital rights community to obtain greater transparency on this issue, with senior politicians from both sides stating that it was not their preactice to comment on the nation’s intelligence arrangements.

    Asked to comment on The Guardian’s ASD revelations this week, Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who oversaw the operation of the intelligence agencies for most of this year as Attorney-General, repeated this statement.
    “Consistent with long-standing practice on both sides of politics, I am not going to discuss our operational intelligence arrangements,” Dreyfus said. “I am confident that the framework intelligence agencies operate within has appropriate checks and balances to make sure any activities they carry out are within the law.”

    However, Dreyfus also added a rider. “However, if it becomes clear that the Australian community is concerned about the current balance between national security and personal privacy, Labor is willing to participate in a discussion about the national security framework and legislation,” the Labor MP said.

    While Dreyfus was not specific about what such a ‘discussion’ would look like, the comments would appear to open to the door for a wider parliamentary conversation about the use of electronic surveillance techniques by Australia’s intelligence community.

    The issue has come to the fore over the past several months, due to a number of revelations associated with documents released by Snowden, such as the news that the ASD spied on Indonesia’s President and other senior figures from the country, as well as the news that Australia’s diplomatic facilities throughout Asia have been used for intelligence gathering purposes.

    The continued revelations by Snowden, often coming through The Guardian due to the publication’s association with the whistleblower, have put the Government of the day under continued pressure to justify the intelligence agencies’ actions.

    This week, Federal Attorney-General George Brandis reacted to the ASD revelations by supporting the agency and accusing NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden of being an “American traitor”.

    “I am aware of reports published this morning by The Guardian Australia which make certain claims about the alleged activities of Australia’s intelligence organisations. Those claims are made on the basis of material placed in the public domain by the American traitor Edward Snowden,” said Brandis.

    “I note that the document of which the report is based is unverified. I also note that the unverified document is described as a draft document, which contrary to all reports, does not report or record any activity by any Australian intelligence agency. It is, as the honourable Senator knows, a long standing practice of successive Australian governments not to comment on intelligence matters.”

    Brandis’ description of Snowden as an “American traitor” appears to be inaccurate. The United States has a very strict definition of treason and rarely charges suspects with the crime, usually preferring instead to focus on other related charges such as sedition or espionage. The country has charged only a handful of people with treason over the past several centuries.

    Snowden has been charged with espionage and theft of government property in the US — but not with treason, according to publicly available information.

    Additionally, much of the international community, and even respected US politicians such as former President Jimmy Carter, have applauded his actions as both patriotic and also serving humanity. In addition, a number of legal challenges have already been mounted to the legitimacy of the spying programs in the US. A number of polls have consistently shown that a large percentage of US citizens actually regard Snowden as a hero.

    Image credit: Attorney-General’s Department

    Print Friendly


    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. TrevorX
      Posted 04/12/2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink |

      The ALP should use this as a platform/excuse to restyle itself as a champion of democracy and the people. They’ve been so scared for years of rocking the political boat too much – they want to appear similar enough to the LNP that they can attract swinging conservative voters. That’s a fool’s plan though – it’s precisely why so many people are disillusioned with the political process and lack of any real options in the major parties.

      Take a stand Labor – accept your errors, talk openly about how you screwed up (such as Conroy’s admissions about the NBN delays) and what comprehensive plans you have to address the issues. Demonstrate through published policy how you don’t just intend, but will address issues of transparency; realign your position on National Security to be in the public interest; realign your stance on International trade agreements and IP treaties to represent the interest of the Australian public first and foremost; cease and desist this hostile stone-walling against the public’s reasonable interest in Government decisions and activities.

      You might not end up being the most popular government in International Politics, but you will become an untouchable government in domestic public opinion – the LNP would have to turn themselves inside out to win government back from that.

      But, you know, WTF do I know?

      • Harimau
        Posted 05/12/2013 at 3:51 am | Permalink |


        TrevorX for Labor Prime Minister.

  • Get our weekly newsletter

    All our stories, just 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

    • Legacy health software lands SA Govt in court doctor

      In which the South Australian Government comes up with complex legal arguments as to why it should be able to continue to use a 1980’s software package.

    • Microsoft wants to win you back with Windows 10 windows-10

      The latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system will begin rolling out from Wednesday (July 29). And remarkably, Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to those users who already have Windows 7 and 8.1 installed.

    • Qld Govt Depts have no disaster recovery plan brisvegas2

      Two sizable Queensland Government departments have no central disaster recovery plan, the state’s Auditor-General has found, despite the region’s ongoing struggles with extreme weather conditions that have previously knocked out telecommunications and data centre infrastructure.

    • ASD releases Windows 8 hardening guide windows-8-1

      The Australian Signals Directorate appears to have released a guide to hardening Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, three years after the software was released for use by corporate customers, and as Microsoft is slated to release its next upgrade, Windows 10.

    • ASG picks up $35m CIMIC IT services deal money

      Perth-headquartered IT services group ASG this week revealed it had picked up a deal worth at least $35 million over five years with CIMIC Group — the massive construction and contracting group previously known as Leighton Holdings.

  • Blog, Policy + Politics - Jul 31, 2015 12:43 - 0 Comments

    Google ploughs $1m into Australian tech education

    More In Policy + Politics

    Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 31, 2015 14:16 - 1 Comment

    Legacy health software lands SA Govt in court

    More In Enterprise IT

    Industry, News - Jul 28, 2015 12:37 - 0 Comments

    ICAC to investigate NSW TAFE ICT manager

    More In Industry

    Consumer Tech, News - Jul 29, 2015 17:14 - 11 Comments

    Telstra integrates Netflix, Stan, Presto into re-badged Roku box

    More In Consumer Tech