The Australian Government has now been labelled as the most intrusive government in the western world.
It has been revealed that on a per-capita basis, the Australian government spies of its citizens more than any other western government.
In 2010-2011, more than 3,400 Australians had been spied on by more than 17 government law enforcement agencies. This includes state and federal police agencies, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Medicare.
The shocking truth is that these government agencies can access telephone and Internet data records without a warrant from a judge.
On a per capita basis, the Australian government is more than 18 times likely to intercept telephone calls than the United States government (Source: Sydney Morning Herald).
Even more disturbing, these government agencies accessed telephone and Internet data records an astonishingly 250,000 times without even recording why and when these intercepts had taken place.
A representative of the Australian Federal Police, Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan, claimed on Australian national television that this alarming level of spying is ok because:
- There is more accountability in Australia then in the United States of America.
- The Australian Federal Police has better relationships with Australian telecommunication companies.
- Australian telecommunication companies allow government agencies more access to personal data.
- People are only spied on when the matter is considered serious.
What Neil Gaughan failed to mention was that the power to grant warrants was taken away from judges and given to the administrative appeals tribunal, making it easier to obtain warrants.\
In reply to Neil Gaughan, Cameron Murphy from the NSW Council of Civil Liberties was quoted as saying:
Only fifteen warrants to intercept telephone and internet data records were ordered by Judges in 2011
This therefore means that the remaining 3,473 warrants issued to spy on Australians had been issued by members of the administrative appeals tribunal, an unethical organisation that is composed of private citizens who are appointed by the government.
Cameron Murphy from the NSW Council of Civil Liberties also made a valid observation that:
Police, and other law enforcement agencies can (at any time) retrieve the data they have gathered to work out where you have been, where you have made a call from and who you have called
To highlight how far down the rabbit hole the Australian Government has fallen, the latest annual report from ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) highlighted that it completed more than 2,900 intelligence reports, 575 reports on threats from the Arab spring, G20 Summit in Korea and Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and various reports on the implication of Osama Bin Laden’s death for Australia.
Considering Australia’s population is only around 22 million, why is there such a blatant need to invade the privacy of ordinary Australians on such a grand scale?
The high probability that law-abiding Aussies are being spied on is no surprise. Since 2005, the workforce of ASIO has increased by a whopping 62%.
Even more disturbing than the number of telephone intercepts in Australia and the size of ASIO is the fact that Australia’s law enforcement agencies claim that someone committing an act of terrorism could be someone who “destroy(s) trust and to spread(s) fear and paranoia”.