Published June 6th, 2015

Australia is “one of the most aggressive” countries when it comes to mass surveillance, said Glenn Greenwald on Thursday night’s edition of ABC Lateline.

Greenwald, who worked alongside Edward Snowden in disclosing and publishing mass caches of information on the British and United States’ global surveillance programs in 2013, has since been heavily praised (and demonised) for being one of the major players in bringing the the growing issue of data retention to light.

During the interview Greenwald stated that Australia is “probably the country that has gotten away with things the most in terms of the Snowden revelations”, and criticised Australia’s politicians for exaggerating the threat of terrorism in the country. Greenwald also stated that in terms of data retention laws Australia is “one of the most aggressive countries that engage in mass surveillance as a member of the Five Eyes partnership” (The 5 Eyes being Australia, United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand and Canada).

“If you are an Australian citizen, you are more likely to die by being struck by lightning or by going out to dinner tonight and contracting a fatal intestinal illness than dying in a terrorism attack”, he stated.

Sadly, his appearance on Lateline showed the grim reality that yet again Australia has outdone itself on the world stage, but for all the wrong reasons. As shocking as it sounds initially, Greenwald’s revelation isn’t actually that surprising when you think about the recently passed data retention laws whichforce telecommunications providers to store phone and internet usage records of all their customers for two years, and allow security agencies to access the records. There’s also the recently introduced section 35P that was added to theASIO Act in 2014, which criminalises those who make public information which may relate to a “special intelligence operation”. This basically means that if a journalist reports on something that could potentially lead to threatening any special intelligence operations, regardless of the content and its validity, they can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Hang up your boots journos, we’ve had quite enough of this past-time of you actually reporting the news.

Greenwald also put it out in the air that he and his team are currently working with the intention of putting out something as soon as they can regarding Australia’s data retention. So hold tight, nation of lifters not leaners, we may not be quite the lucky country we’ve been lead to believe.


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