Australia: The End of Freedom? We are Sleepwalking into a Surveillance State



The leaked classified documents by Edward J. Snowden beginning in June 2013 unleashed waves of alarming revelations across the world of covert government mass surveillance and data mining on a global scale.

Considered “the most spectacular intelligence breach in history” by one publisher,1 Snowden’s disclosures tore a wide opening in the veil of international secret government spying and surveillance. The bombshell leaks catalysed immediate protest on pressing concerns of the culture of government secrecy amid reinvigorating crucial public and political awareness of communications security and privacy invasion issues.

However, the protestations appeared to achieve very little, if anything, toward effective reforms to protect user privacy. The initial blow up of public dissent in response to details of the revelations has largely subsided. While several corporations have since demonstrated a measure of transparency, the entire global surveillance landscape remains exceedingly opaque.

Was the initial reaction an overreaction of which more rational minds have since come forth and restored sensible judgment toward the revelations?

The leaked sources themselves offer very little clue as the documents packed one bombshell revelation after the other. Just the first two disclosures in June 2013 showed the US National Security Agency (NSA) secretly spying on millions of American citizens and revealed a mass surveillance data mining program giving government intelligence agencies near unbridled access to milk the central servers of cooperating Internet companies.2

In further testimony of the deep Orwellian dimensions of the NSA were the statements by two of the agency’s former employees turned whistleblowers – William Binney and Thomas Drake. The former intelligence officers alleged at a recent German inquiry committee the NSA has a “totalitarian mentality” that covets nothing less than “total population control.”3

It was also revealed the NSA isn’t the world’s only intelligence powerhouse conducting clandestine surveillance operations. The United States is partnered with Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand in a grand alliance of national security intelligence collectively known as the Five Eyes. The Five Eyes agreement came after World War II and continued during the Cold War period to this day.4

The leaked documents need no embellishment as to the incendiary content they contain. The revelations are certainly not what an informed citizenry would idly allow to lapse without scrutiny. Yet in the months since the first leaks exposed the machinations of the NSA and its partners, we’ve seen diminishing public engagement and concern around the world. This has been no less apparent in Australia as professor of international law at the University of Sydney, Ben Saul, recently warned:

Amidst global concern about security agencies having too much power and always pushing the boundaries of what they say they need, it is pretty extraordinary that Australia is sleepwalking into more surveillance powers without proper consultation and scrutiny.5

This “extraordinary” acquiescence is a crucially important development in the progression of government surveillance, as is the manner in which the disclosures have been processed in public discourse. This is of particular interest to clarifying why in light of the revelations we see public scrutiny fading and governments enabled to push through controversial data retention laws.

As such, it is important that any discussion examine these issues, viewed through the prism of Snowden’s document leaks. To note, while many types of surveillance exist, the focus of this analysis will primarily be on government electronic surveillance as revealed through Snowden’s revelations, including the Australian Government’s recent proposed national security law reforms and mandatory data retention measures.

National Security Agenda & Data Retention Laws in Australia

The Australian Government’s National Security Committee agreed in August 2014 to back controversial new laws that would require telecommunications companies to retain customer data for two years.

At this time of writing, the laws – that are claimed to contain measures to protect the country from terrorist and security threats – are expected to go to parliament later in the year. An interim data retention measure may be introduced much earlier.

News Limited broke the story on the committee meeting discussions sounding this dire warning:

Every phone call you’ve ever made. Every word you’ve ever googled. Every Facebook status you’ve ever posted. All your phone and internet records will soon be stored by the government for two years, in what some consider a scary play for Big Brother authority.6

The government was quick to respond to media breaking news following the committee meeting. In an attempt to allay public fears and arrest runaway media rumours of covert mass surveillance and privacy invasion, the government retorted that “metadata” and not “content data” would be the target of collection and storage.

The collection, we were all assured, would only include a few simple transactional details of the targeted activity such as time, date and location of emails. Details of a phone call would include the caller’s location and the number they dialled, the duration of the call but no content of the conversation itself. All apparently safe and security friendly.

However what the messaging didn’t articulate is the fact that metadata can be “used to build ‘pattern-of-life’ profiles of individuals.”7 Contrary to what the government would have us believe, metadata is a very useful resource for building complete pictures of peoples’ lives.

NSA’s former General Counsel Stewart Baker provided a key insight when he said:

…metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.8

Clearly, metadata will provide authorities with much more detail of a person’s life than what the government claims. As it were, a leaked secret industry consultation paper in the weeks following the National Security Committee meeting revealed there was consideration for retaining broadly more user data than what the government were openly discussing.9

Interestingly, on 8 April 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s highest court, struck down a rule that required telecom companies to store the communications data of EU citizens.10 The court viewed that the Data Retentive Directive interfered with the “fundamental rights… for private life and to the protection of personal data” and could provide “very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained.”11

As the press release shows, the EU Court certainly regards data retention measures a tangible threat to the privacy and civil liberties of effected citizens.

Big Brother in the Land Down Under

Australia is a land of contrasts, an island nation surrounded by large open oceans. From the lush and fertile areas along the eastern seaboard of the mainland to the tropics across the north that house a vast and arid outback interior. The country is home to a number of exquisite landscapes and unique geographical features.

The many unique species of flora and fauna is the result of Australia’s geographic isolation from the rest of the world. But while the country and its inhabitants may be isolated on the global map, it is very much merged and immersed with the rest of the world through modern globalisation and high speed technologies enabling deep connections far beyond our natural ocean borders.

Incidentally, the emergence of the global digital and electronic surveillance grid has given rise to the global surveillance society. Australians are no less citizens of this borderless digital community, be they targets of clandestine surveillance on home soil or of interest to intelligence agencies abroad.

In a chilling revelation published by The Sydney Morning Herald in December 2013, it was found that telecommunications company Telstra had:

…installed highly advanced surveillance systems to ‘vacuum’ the telephone calls, texts, social media messages and internet metadata of millions of Australians so that information can be filtered and given to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.12

It was also revealed that the Australian Government’s electronic spying agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), formerly known as the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), was using the same technology supplied from an information technology company in Melbourne to colonise undersea fibre optic cables to harvest data traffic in and out of Australia.13

Also in December 2013 The Guardian revealed that the ASD had offered to share personal details about Australians, including their “medical, legal or religious information” with its Five Eyes network.

Australia’s surveillance agency offered to share information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, according to a secret 2008 document leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.14

The Guardian also noted the ASD had indicated it could share unfiltered bulk metadata with its partners adding that random collection was inconsequential:

“DSD can share bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national,” notes from an intelligence conference say. “Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue.”15

As previously discussed, metadata can be used to build profiles of individuals. The fact that security agencies and respective governments exhibit an almost insatiable appetite for metadata is an unspoken admission of its inherent value for effective surveillance purposes.

Recall in August 2014 the government backed new data retention laws and boosted Australian intelligence agencies with $630 million of funding as part of a national security package. Then consider what the leaked documents show about the collection of bulk metadata and intelligence sharing between the Five Eyes alliance and we can begin to join the dots to see where this is all heading.

Even Australian airlines are being drafted into new national security measures where they will be requested to submit passenger departure information in advance to officials so they can be screened for potential risks prior to arriving at the airport. As The Daily Telegraph learned, there will be a roll out of facial recognition and biometric screening at the departure gates of all major airports in the country.16

In striking evidence of shifting Australian opinion toward agreeing with the government’s reforms is a poll that was published by The Australian in late August 2014. The results of the survey showed an overwhelming 77 percent of the 1,207 respondents indicated they would support new laws making it an offence to travel to designated countries without a valid reason; requiring travellers to prove they had not been in contact with any terrorist groups.17 A very timely poll given it was conducted around the time of some barbaric media imagery coming out of the theatres of violence overseas.

This is not to suggest legitimate reasons for the prevention of terrorist threats are not warranted, but as Cameron Stewart’s opinion piece in The Australian warned,

….the government must ensure such a law does not become a clumsy dragnet that captures the innocent who simply visit their homeland but who subsequently struggle to prove it was for legitimate reasons.18

The push for data retention laws also come in the wake of an “explosion in surveillance devices being used by NSW Police,” according to civil rights groups. It has been found that the number of surveillance devices used in the state doubled in just the past three years. Civil right groups contend that the surge in the use of surveillance devices is evidence terrorism laws introduced in NSW in 2002 “are now being misused as a daily policing tool.”19

The federal government’s data retention proposals, however, will simply remove this pesky formality as plans to combat terrorism will be expanded “to fight ‘general’ crimes.”20

Of further concern are details of the apparent high number of requests for metadata by Australian authorities from telecommunication and Internet providers. In a separate report on the impact of the Snowden revelations, The Privacy Surgeon claimed that:

Australian authorities, for example, made an extraordinary 685,757 requests for communications metadata in 2013, almost three times the number of requests per head of population made by the UK, and more than a hundred-fold greater than Germany.21 Extraordinary numbers indeed. The feeding frenzy on metadata needs little discernment to recognise the encroaching pervasive surveillance state in the land down under.

In another concerning development, according to Stewart in The Australian, it appears the compulsory metadata retention proposals will win bi-partisan support. Moreover, given these proposals are “big reforms and the relative silence that has so far accompanied them suggest most Australians agree they are necessary.”22

It is perhaps a deafening “silence” that a future generation will reflect on with indictment. Namely the missed opportunity we had to exercise crucial democratic processes to sway the direction of government surveillance in Australia in the interest of protecting crucial civil liberties and privacy rights for all Australians.

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Global Breadth of the Surveillance Network

While we examine Australian domestic and extraterritorial spying activities in collaboration with their intelligence partners, it is also useful to look at the broader international apparatus of the global surveillance network.

The scope and breadth of the intelligence partnerships and their extraterritorial surveillance ambitions are remarkable. Commenting on the forward expansion aims of the NSA, journalist and author Pratap Chatterjee observes:

What the FBI does, however intrusive, is small potatoes compared to what the National Security Agency dreams of doing: getting and storing the data traffic not just of an entire nation, but of an entire planet.23

A story in The Washington Post on 1 July 2014 showed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had given the NSA “permission to spy on almost every country in the world” with leaked documents containing a list of 193 countries of apparent interest to US intelligence.24 From the opening of the story we read:

The latest revelation to come from the documents obtained by Edward Snowden… shows the true breadth of the US government’s electronic spying apparatus, a web of surveillance that covers the entire globe.25

Editor Glenn Greenwald documents a number of Snowden’s revelations in his book No Place to Hide. Contained in the collection are several secret references revealing the surveillance ambitions of the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). These include discussions among the intelligence partners about their audacious “New Collection Posture” and plans to “collect it all,” “know it all” and “exploit it all.”26

The documents also include a listing of corporate partnerships with the NSA with one classified slide presentation stating the agency has “alliances with over 80 major global corporations.”

A leaked Snowden document on 18 June 2014 revealed a number of “third party partners” cooperating with the security agencies – far more than what was previously known. A classified presentation in Greenwald’s No Place to Hide lists 33 third party countries.27

Collaborative reporting by The Intercept and Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information revealed the NSA’s partnership with Germany and Denmark together with details of their participation in a program codenamed RAMPART A.28 According to Dagbladet Information:

These partnerships are among the NSA’s closest-guarded secrets, and play a central role in the NSA’s ambition to be able to intercept any electronic communication, anywhere in the world.29

The publications claim the third party partners under RAMPART A are allowing the NSA to access and install surveillance equipment on their fibre-optic cables and thus share massive amounts of phone and Internet data with the agency.

The leverage to capture extraordinary volumes of data from this program alone is tremendous. Citing comments from security expert and technologist Bruce Schneier:

If you look at a map of the Internet, there are surprisingly few trunks. Most data flows through a surprisingly small number of choke points. If you get access to them, you get access to everything.30

According to The Intercept, participating countries in RAMPART A are incentivised for their cooperation in the program. Third party partners are rewarded with “access to the NSA’s sophisticated surveillance equipment, so they too can spy on the mass of data that flows in and out of their territory.”31

What “mass of data” are Agencies Spying On?

We are living in an era of big data. Personal information is the new currency. Customer and user data is a treasured asset to governments and corporations. For governments the value is ultimately power and control. For corporations it is more commonly about maximising efficiencies, productivity and profits.

Herein is an overview of the high volumes and types of data flows and other transaction details surveilled each day as revealed in Snowden’s leaked secret documents.

A classified document showed that a program called SHELLTRUMPET had processed its one trillionth metadata record over a five year period, with almost half of this volume in the previous calendar year alone and an ongoing two billion call events each day.32

A classified presentation slide from GCHQ boasted the agency “has massive access to international internet communications” claiming: “We receive upwards of 50 billion events per day (…and growing).”33

The Intercept claims that the program RAMPART A:

…enables the NSA to tap into three terabits of data every second as the data flows across the compromised cables – the equivalent of being able to download about 5,400 uncompressed high-definition movies every minute.34

According to The Washington Post, the NSA gathers:

…nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world…. enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals – and map their relationships – in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.35

In Greenwald’s No Place to Hide a leaked document shows the NSA had claimed to have “access to a broad range of Facebook data via surveillance and search activities.”36

Another document reveals PRISM’s standard Stored Communications collection package had given “new capability” for “much more complete and timely collection response from SSO” (Special Sources Operations).

The capability enables PRISM to collect data from Microsoft’s SkyDrive (now updated to OneDrive) which is a cloud service that allows users to store and access Word/PowerPoint/Excel files online from various devices without having MS Office installed on the device. PRISM’s capability was also expanded to collect Skype data.

In a quite chilling admission, the secret documents revealed that Microsoft was working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to develop these and other surveillance capabilities.

For security agencies to have this vast surveillance access to user data amid confirmation of corporate complicity in the collection of customer data, should give any Internet user pause for concern at how their digital footprints are being accessed and for what reasons.

Further concerning revelations of the diabolical spying dragnet comes from Der Spiegel when in September 2013 the publication broke the story on the NSA monitoring, collecting and storing millions of financial transactions from a wide range of banks and credit card companies.

The leaked documents revealed that while spying on “the global financial system,” the surveillance programs gathered data that contained very specific and personal details of individuals that went beyond the target mandate:

According to the document, the collection, storage and sharing of “politically sensitive” data is a highly invasive measure since it includes “bulk data – rich personal information. A lot of it is not about our targets.”37

The article further mentions that the personal information collected had assisted with achieving successful “blacklist” outcomes:

The collected information often provides a complete picture of individuals, including their movements, contacts and communication behaviour. The success stories mentioned by the intelligence agency include operations that resulted in banks in the Arab world being placed on the US Treasury’s blacklist.

According to Der Spiegel, few if any financial transactions escape the data trawls:

By all appearances, the NSA collects everything that it can in the sensitive financial sector – at least that’s the message of a presentation from April. The agency sets out to access “bulk global financial data,” which is then fed into the Tracfin database, the presenter noted.

There remains no doubt in light of these revelations that the worldwide move toward a cashless society is enabling a surveillance system capable of monitoring just about every human digital transaction.

Normalisation & Acceptance of Government Surveillance

To see public pressure on governments fall by the wayside is a disturbing development in light of Snowden’s revelations. We read earlier from Ben Saul, professor of international law at the University of Sydney, who warned, “Australia is sleepwalking into more surveillance powers…” Australian journalist and broadcaster Antony Funnell agrees:

Despite the global uproar which followed last year’s Snowden spying scandal, governments all around the world are showing little interest in scaling back on their spying and tracking activities.

On the contrary, the Australian Government, with the agreement of the Labor Opposition, is currently pushing for increased surveillance powers for Australia’s security services, including a foreshadowed requirement that telcos retain their customers’ call data for up to two years, just in case that data is required for reasons of state security.38

There are few that see the writing on the wall, but see it they can. In a relatively short period of time since the initial revelations broke in June 2013, we see diminishing public engagement and concern. We look to Will Parkhurst’s application of the theory of the Panopticon for some insights.

Will Parkhurst offers an interesting view of the Snowden revelations. As he explains, the leaked secret documents had two unintended consequences: One is the restoration of the traditional Panopticon into a modern digital Panopticon “that forces citizens to become complicit in their own subjugation.” The other is the disclosures have encouraged broad public discourse that has begun “to normalise the role of surveillance as a benevolent observer” and mask its intrusive and invasive potential.39

First Parkhurst builds on Michel Foucault’s conceptualisation of social control and the Panopticon where architecture of the prison made prisoners feel like they were permanently being watched regardless of whether anyone was on guard duty. Prisoners had no way of knowing if there was anyone guarding the prison tower. The Panopticon penitentiary imbued prisoners with a sense of permanently being watched, and through a process of gradual internalisation, prisoners began to accept the rules and norms imposed by the institution.

Parkhurst explains how Snowden’s disclosures, which generated broad public knowledge of government surveillance programs, gave visibility to the digital Panopticon, similarly imbuing users with a sense of being watched under the permanent gaze of Big Brother. As such this has created the modern digital Panopticon with social control effects much like the Panopticon prison, thereby imposing the rules and norms of the institution on users. Similarly through a process of gradual internalisation, the general public accepts the rules and norms of government surveillance.

How this scenario is playing out in reality seems almost the work of a genius, as if the Snowden leaks were allowed on purpose. How many times have we read or heard someone say in response to the revelations: “Well if they are watching it doesn’t matter to me as I have nothing to hide and so have nothing to fear”? Of course the vast majority of Internet users aren’t committing criminal acts online but that is just the point.

Behaving as a law abiding digital citizen gives users a sense of complacency and diminishes the personal threat of any consequences of a spying Big Brother. Such a user would unlikely feel urged to pursue any anti-surveillance activities and may actually view such action as overreaction or paranoia.

An example of this perception of public overreaction and paranoia appeared in a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald in which retired Independent National Security Monitor barrister Bret Walker SC opined:

There’s widespread, if irrational, community resistance to the security agencies… having access to stored data. The importance of it as an investigative resource shouldn’t be endangered by that very strong distrust.40

Take this line of reasoning and proliferate abroad through various media and academic channels and what we see is, as Parkhurst postulates, a public discourse surrounding government surveillance programs that has “normalised” and “legitimised” government digital surveillance. Moreover this public discourse and normalisation of surveillance “sets the stage for the expansion of the norms that are policed within the digital panopticon.”

Sure there are the voices of anti-surveillance featuring in the public debate, but it appears at this current juncture that dissenters and their views are being marginalised, if even completely drowned out by the dominating spin doctors propagating cautionary acceptance. With a general public seemingly apathetic toward potential privacy invasion and accepting the norms of government surveillance, there will unlikely be any sustained and effective campaign to challenge it.

Instead, as we have already seen, governments are not scaling back their spying and data mining programs. Rather, in full public view, they are pressing on and introducing laws to strengthen intelligence agency surveillance powers!

In a stroke of irony the revelations that should have urged and energised strong public opposition to government surveillance has instead lulled the majority into conforming to their agenda. The document leaks have lost their impact over time. Exposure has bred familiarity and the public has simply become desensitised. As initial public outrage fades and diminishing opposition lapses into cautionary acceptance, a pervasive surveillance state in Australia looms.

The Technologies Facilitating a Pervasive Surveillance Society

Intelligence agencies enjoy powerful leveraging tools to conduct their mass electronic surveillance and data mining programs. Beside the fact that some telecom corporations have demonstrated complicity in surveillance operations, there is the global system of interconnected computer networks and high speed information and communications technologies that link billions of devices and their users around the world.

The spectre of a global Big Brother was the focus of a recent investigative report by The Washington Post that revealed there is already now on offer to governments newly advanced surveillance systems giving them the ability to track the movements of mobile phone users anywhere and everywhere around the world.41

The advent of the Internet and the rapid transformation that accompanied it is no exception to the globalised surveillance apparatus, as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange recently remarked:

The web accelerated the network’s proliferation into every aspect of modern daily life in advanced societies. The speed of that transformation has left global society unaware of the political and societal implications of using a one-world network as the central nervous system of humanity. Foremost among those implications was the globalisation and totalisation of surveillance.42

In a special report for CNN, technologist Bruce Schneier called it outright: “The Internet is a surveillance state,” indeed “ubiquitous surveillance… efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell.”43

Orwell would certainly marvel if not feel aghast at the new world of modern surveillance technologies amid the advent of highly automated systems of data capture, storage and analytics. Indeed, many modern devices we use daily are creating detailed digital records of our movements in real time. Common consumer devices such as computers, smartphones, iPads, credit cards, smart cards and wearable technologies are all effective instruments for generating volumes of sensitive personal digital data.

It’s quite the crafty design as the enabling technologies have become smaller, faster and more powerful – modern surveillance has become increasingly pervasive and invisible. Concealed beneath the flashy amusement arcade of innovative ‘smart’ technologies and associated novel devices is an all-seeing spying and surveillance Panopticon.

In the pervasive surveillance society “everything will be monitored” claims Daniel Taylor, “…as a whole new world of multidimensional surveillance is upon us.”44 We already engage surveillance like a dangerous liaison with our preoccupation for everything digital and mobile. As journalist and author Pratap Chatterjee observes:

Today, the surveillance state is so deeply enmeshed in our data devices that we don’t even scream back because technology companies have convinced us that we need to be connected to them to be happy.45

The smart technologies facilitating pervasive surveillance are also trending from handheld mobile devices to wearable tech to the embeddable and implantable. Implantable devices are not an uncommon treatment procedure in the medical profession but outside this field the technique is appreciably less common. This is beginning to change.

Fears of RFID chip implants “becoming widespread in humans” have surfaced in the wider debate about invasive surveillance techniques, as this warning from Dr. Katina Michael, an associate professor at the University of Wollongong, reveals:

They point to an uber-surveillance society that is big brother on the inside looking out. Governments or large corporations would have the ability to track people’s actions and movements, categorise them into different socio-economic, political, racial, religious or consumer groups and ultimately even control them.46

The pervasive surveillance society is no longer a future probability but a very present and disturbing reality. As Martin Hirst, associate professor at Deakin University observes: “…we are clearly living in a well-established surveillance society.”47 Hirst warns:

Everything you do is subject to surveillance… We are under constant watch, both physically and electronically. Surveillance is the new normal. It’s everywhere and this ubiquity makes us take it for granted.48

His view is shared by Antony Funnell: “Mass surveillance is now a part of our social, economic and political lives – governments and companies snoop on us like never before.”49

The institutions and frameworks safeguarding our citizen freedoms and freedom of speech and the press appear to be coming under attack as privacy steadily erodes amid a strengthening surveillance drive in the name of national security.50

Edward Snowden’s disclosures provide material cause for a much more rigorous public debate and challenge of the government’s proposed national security reforms than the polite and cautionary acquiescent discourse we’ve seen so far. The proposed data retention laws and increased powers pose serious threats to the security and privacy of all Australians.

If Snowden’s poignant revelations of the clandestine machinations of intelligence agencies worldwide cannot engage and energise a citizen response to effectively challenge government spying agendas, there will be little if any turning back the quickening tide of unchecked state surveillance and privacy invasion.

With pubic interest and concern fading as ongoing conversations continue to normalise and legitimise a role for mass surveillance in our country, a permanent pervasive surveillance society is inevitable. Citizens of liberal democracies around the world still have an open window of opportunity and influence.

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Note: All links and web pages accessible at time of publication

  1. GNM Press Office, ‘Guardian Faber acquire world rights for definitive book on Edward Snowden and the biggest leak in history’, The Guardian, 3 October 2013 at
  2. Glenn Greenwald, ‘NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily’, The Guardian, 6 June 2013 at and Baton Gellman and Laura Poitras, ‘U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. internet companies in broad secret program’, The Washington Post, 7 June 2013 at:
  3. Antony Loewenstein, ‘The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control’, The Guardian, 11 July 2014 at and Derek Scally, ‘NSA whistleblowers’ testimony electrifies Bundestag committee’, The Irish Times, 5 July 2014 at
  4. See ‘Five Eyes’, Wikipedia at
  5. Sophie Morris, ‘George Brandis’s creeping spy powers’, The Saturday Paper, 5 July 2014 at
  6. Harry Tucker, ‘Big Brother is watching: Why the government wants to keep your metadata’, News Limited, 5 August 2014 at
  7. James Ball, ‘NSA stores metadata of millions of web users for up to a year, secret files show’, The Guardian, 1 October 2013 at
  8. Lindy Stephens, ‘Invitation to Attorney-General George Brandis: metadata one-on-one’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2014 at
  9. Ben Grubb, ‘Secret data retention discussion paper leaked’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 August 2014 at
  10. Press Release, ‘The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid’, Court of Justice of the European Union, 8 April 2014 at
  11. Ibid
  12. Philip Dorling, ‘Telstra’s data ‘vacuum’’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 December 2013 at
  13. Ibid
  14. Ewen MacAskill, James Ball and Katharine Murphy, ‘Revealed: Australian spy agency offered to share data about ordinary citizens’, The Guardian, 2 December 2013 at
  15. Ibid
  16. Simon Benson, ‘Facial scanners to screen potential terrorist: Australians will be scanned leaving and arriving in the country, under sweeping new laws’, The Daily Telegraph, 6 August 2014 at
  17. AFP, ‘Australia steps up efforts against radicalisation’, Yahoo News, 26 August 2014 at
  18. Cameron Stewart, ‘New legislation justified but must not be abused’, The Australian, 6 August 2014 at
  19. Kirsty Needham, ‘Metadata access in new national security laws raises civil liberties concern’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 2014 at
  20. Latika Bourke and James Massola, ‘Data storage could be used to fight ‘general crime’, Tony Abbott says’, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 August 2014 at
  21. Simon Davies et al, ‘A Crisis of Accountability: A global analysis of the impact of the Snowden revelations’, The Privacy Surgeon, June 2014 at
  22. Ibid Cameron Stewart, at
  23. Pratap Chatterjee, ‘Mining your information for big brother’, Asia Times Online, 15 October 2013 at
  24. See ‘List of foreign governments and organizations authorized for surveillance’ at
  25. Paul Waldman, ‘Latest NSA revelations show global reach of U.S. surveillance’ The Washington Post, 1 July 2014 at
  26. Glenn Greenwald, ‘No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State’, 2014 at
  27. Ibid
  28. Anton Geist et al, ‘NSA ‘third party’ partners tap the Internet backbone in global surveillance program’, Dagbladet Information, 19 June 2014 at and Ryan Gallagher, ‘How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet’, The Intercept, 18 June 2014 at
  29. Ibid Anton Geist et al at
  30. Ibid
  31. Ibid; Ryan Gallagher at
  32. See page 100 of Glenn Greenwald, ‘No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State’, 2014 at
  33. Ibid
  34. Ibid Ryan Gallagher at
  35. Barton Gellman and Ashkan Solltani, ‘NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show’, The Washington Post, 4 December 2013 at
  36. Ibid Glenn Greenwald at
  37. Laura Poitras et al, ‘Follow the money: NSA Monitors Financial World’, Der Spiegel, 16 September 2013 at
  38. Ibid Antony Funnell, ‘1984 and our modern surveillance society’ at
  39. Will Parkhurst, ‘The NSA Revelations and the Establishment of the Digital Panopticon’, Medium, 5 March 2014 at
  40. Ibid Kirsty Needham, at
  41. Craig Timberg, ‘For sale: Systems that can secretly track where cellphone users go around the globe’, The Washington Post, 24 August 2014 at
  42. ‘Global mass surveillance should be discontinued immediately’, Global: the international briefing, 2014, at
  43. Bruce Schneier, ‘The Internet is a surveillance state’, CNN, 16 March 2013 at
  44. Daniel Taylor, ‘Wearable Tech: The Surveillance Grid of the Future’, Old Thinker News, 31 March 2014 at
  45. Pratap Chatterjee, ‘Mining your information for big brother’, Asia Times Online, 15 October 2013 at
  46. Iain Gillespie, ‘Human microchipping: I’ve got you under my skin’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 2014 at
  47. Martin Hirst, ’Someone’s looking at you: welcome to the surveillance economy’, 26 July 2013, at
  48. Ibid
  49. Antony Funnell, ‘1984 and our modern surveillance society’, Future Tense, 29 July 2014, ABC at
  50. See Michael West, ‘Australian politicians need reminding they ought be transparent with the public’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 August 2014 at


STEVEN TRITTON has written through several genres on a variety of subject areas including alternative news, human interest stories, and topical issues. Steven co-authored Australia’s Security Nightmares (Collaborative Publications) contributing a chapter on raising awareness about national security challenges in 2012. Steven also authored an article on human microchip implants in New Dawn 145 (July-August 2014). Steven can be contacted at

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 8 No 5

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