Monday, 23 May 2016 11:51

AFP raids on ALP offices show dangers of data retention: Snowden Featured

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Banished NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that Australia has gone further down the slippery slope of unfettered mass surveillance than even the US. Yesterday Snowden pointed to the recent raids by the Australian Federal Police on the offices of senior ALP parliamentarian Senator Stephen Conroy and a staffer of Opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare to illustrate the potential danger of using retained metadata for nefarious political purposes.

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.

According to Snowden, the rhetoric used by advocates of mandatory data retention, increased government surveillance and laws weakening personal privacy is disingenuous at best and maliciously mischievous at worst.

"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.

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Stan Beer

Stan Beer has been involved with the IT industry for 39 years and has worked as a senior journalist and editor at most of the major media publications, including The Australian, Australian Financial Review, The Age, SMH, BRW, and a number of IT trade journals. He co-founded iTWire in 2004, where he was editor in chief until 2016. Today, Stan consults with iTWire News Site /Website administration, advertising scheduling, news editorial posts. In 2016 Stan was presented with a Kester Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Australian IT journalism.

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