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the big silence « Previous | |Next »
November 5, 2013

The Edward Snowden revelations have shown us that the closely allied electronic spying agencies, the NSA in America and GCHQ in Britain have indicated that Internet and phone traffic has been comprehensively hacked and stored, to be accessed globally by hundreds of thousands of staff. We now know that the National Security Agency, working in conjunction with its British counterpart, GCHQ, have broken into the fibre optic cables that carry the transfer of data around the world for Google and Yahoo.

The surveillance system appears both insecure and out of control with democratic and judicial oversight having broken down, with the giant tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo, willingly collaborated with the US government's mass surveillance schemes. The world is the American oyster, to pry open and do with as they will.

Yet in Australia, which is part of the Anglo Five Eyes countries' surveillance system, there has been no questioning of the national security state. Parliamentary oversight appears to look puny, ignorant and indifferent even though the essentially authoritarian and secretive arm of government slithers away from democratic oversight. The expansion of the national security state and it illegal abuses is just accepted, even though it is known that the "war on terror" has led to intrusions on civil liberties, intrusions that do not necessarily have a payoff in terms of increased security.

The Snowden revelations are an indication just how far the Anglo countries have slid from democratic principles and that their commitment is to suppressing instead of informing public debate about surveillance. The data surveillance enterprises, public and private, want to know everything about you, but they don’t want you to know much about them. On one hand, they probe into the minutia of our lives — against our will in the case of the NSA — and on the other hand, they want to maintain as much opacity as possible on why and how they do it.

Apparently, too much transparency defeats the purpose of democracy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:39 AM | | Comments (9)
Comments

Comments

So Australia has been spying--clandestine eavesdropping--- on Indonesia from the embassy on behalf of the US. Is Australia still Washington's deputy sheriff in the region?

Australia is a key part of the so-called “Five Eyes” countries, which along with the US includes other “Anglosphere” countries in the UK, Canada and New Zealand. Australia’s primary role in this network is contributing intelligence on the southeast Asian region.

The Snowden documents revealed that the Ttop secret Defence Signals Directorate operates the listening posts at embassies without the knowledge of most Australian diplomats,

The documents revealed the existence of a signals intelligence collection program - codenamed STATEROOM - conducted from sites at US embassies and consulates and from the diplomatic missions of other intelligence partners including Australia, Britain and Canada.

Australia has a key role in sharing and providing intelligence to its partners, via the US/Australian joint facility at Pine Gap and another facility at Geraldton, which is run by Australia's Defence Signals Directorate.

DSD monitors all international telephone conversations, faxes and email traffic, which go through communication satellites stationed in South-East Asia and the Southwest Pacific.

No doubt a growing number of Australian citizens are being monitored by our spy agencies.

The Greens communications spokesman, senator Scott Ludlam, is challenging both the government and the Labor opposition to back a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry into the practices, similar to those in the UK, Spain, Germany and the US.

What will the reaction from the Coalition and the ALP be? More silence?

Well put.

GCHQ on the UK tapped the private networks between Google's centres in order to monitor traffic on an industrial-scale.

Is there any system of checks and balances over the the top secret Defence Signals Directorate. If so what are they? or can the Defence Signals Directorate do what it pleases.

Nan...

There might be some sort of checks and balances over the Defence Signals Directorate... but they're not at liberty of tell anyone...