Edward Snowden Warns Australians Of New Data Retention Risk


The National Security Agency whistleblower has cautioned Australian followers that their online movements are now being tracked. Max Chalmers reports.

The former security contractor who helped expose the massive extent of the spying and data collection of the United States and it allies has warned Australians about the impact of new data retention laws which come into effect today.

Edward Snowden rose to global prominence after sharing internal National Security Agency documents with Guardian journalists exposing the scope of the US-headed information sharing network ‘Five Eyes’, which includes Australia.

Among the scores of stories resulting from the leaks was the revelation Australian spies attempted to listen to the phone calls of the Indonesian president.

Today, the whistleblower had a direct message for Australians.

Forced to seek asylum in Russia to evade US authorities, Snowden began using social media site Twitter in September this year to promote the Freedom of the Press Foundation. In his early outings the whistleblower tried to see the lighter side of his situation. The message going out today was less upbeat.  

Aside from directing followers to the anti-data retention campaign being run by advocacy group GetUp! in conjunction with other Australian based privacy groups, Snowden also pointed to an explainer on the issue by privacy advocate Robin Doherty.

Despite securing support from both major parties, the laws coming into effect today – which mandate internet and phone companies keep a range of client data for two years and hand it over to certain government agencies without a warrant – were panned by now Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull while in Opposition.

A key privacy safeguard promised to Labor to help win the party’s support of the measures is yet to be legislated.

Yesterday, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam shared his tips for citizens looking to protect their privacy online after the laws take effect.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.