NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden recently spoke to the Australian people, urging them to oppose Australia’s new data retention bill.
The law, passed in March, forces internet service providers and telecommunication companies to hold personal data for a minimum of 2 years — enabling a wide range of surveillance proven ineffective at actually stopping terrorism.
“These [terrorists] were people who have a long record and the reason these attacks happened isn’t because we didn’t have enough surveillance, it’s that we had too much,” Snowden said. “We didn’t prioritize because we’d wasted too many resources watching people who didn’t present a threat.”
According to CNET,
“Under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015, service providers will be required by law to store data such as account holder names and addresses; date, time and duration of communications; the recipient of communications; and the location of equipment used for communications, including cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots.”
Addressing a Melbourne audience from Moscow, Snowden said, “Australia’s role in mass surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora program.” He continued to say “They’ll collect everyone’s communications, it’s called pre-criminal investigation, which means they are watching everyone all the time. They can search through that information not just in Australia but also share with overseas governments such as the US and UK. And it happens without oversight.”
To illustrate the incomprehensibly broad scope of malicious uses the data could serve, Snowden added that “The impacts of metadata can’t be overstated, they are collecting data on everyone regardless of wrongdoing. When you have metadata, it’s a proxy for content, so when politicians split hairs about metadata you should be very skeptical.”
Perhaps most importantly, Snowden recognized the priority of government surveillance. He alluded to the idea that a government’s opposition is more of a concern to them than a terrorist threat. Opposition being adversarial journalists, activists, and other dissidents that may cause headaches for the establishment. “Under these mandatory metadata laws you can immediately see who journalists are contacting, from which you can derive who their sources are.” Snowden claimed.