In 2015 the current LNP Government and representatives embarked on a campaign to sell mandatory data retention to the Australian public, with rhetoric centred on its necessity to curb dangerous criminal activities such as terrorism.
Speaking by satellite in a video link to a packed auditorium in a Melbourne event staged by Think Inc, Snowden pointed to the use of metadata by the AFP to find the sources of journalists' articles about NBN cost overruns as a stark example of how the Australian data retention laws have already been misused for political purposes.
“It is ironic that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was Communications Minister at that time (when cost overruns occurred),” said Snowden.
"Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say,” he said, repeating his often used mantra.
He also discredited the statement: “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” by attributing the words to Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels.
Snowden, invoking his credentials as a security expert, claimed that there has been no evidence that mass surveillance is effective in preventing terrorism or other criminal acts.
“In all my time with the CIA and NSA, there has not been any evidence that a single terrorist incident has been been prevented.”
Snowden also said that not a single life had been lost as a result of his whistleblowing activities.
When asked by a member of the audience if he would support mass surveillance or mandated data retention if it was shown to be effective, his answer was an emphatic no, saying that you could also make the case that plucking suspects off the street and murdering them was effective.