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All spies and no responsibility

All spies and no responsibility

Dr Vivienne Thom
Dr Vivienne Thom

Hiding behind the election’s caretaker mode, Oz spooks have imposed a blackout on explaining Australia’s use of PRISM and other immoral uberveillance. Where’s IGIS when you need her?

All spies and no responsibility

By CLA President, Dr Kristine Klugman OAM

The government and spy agencies are ducking and weaving, assiduously avoiding answering questions on the impact of PRISM on the Australian community.

PRISM is a secret mass electronic surveillance and data mining program which has been operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.

Its existence was leaked six years later by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who warned that the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew and included what he characterized as “dangerous” and “criminal” activities. The disclosures were published first by The Guardian and The Washington Post on 6 June 2013.

There has been international questioning and comment on PRISM since the Snowden revelations.

What Snowden, who is no spy, has revealed is the nature of the game: that surveillance is a huge private industry; that almost full control of the internet has been achieved already; that politicians here [and in Australia: ed] and in the US have totally acquiesced to industrial-scale snooping. There is a generation now made up of people who will never have had a private conversation online or by phone. These are my children. And should they or anyone else want to organize against the powers that be, they will be traceable. We have sleepwalked into this because liberty remains such an alien concept, still.

                                                                                    Suzanne Moore The Guardian 4 July 2013

The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.

Despite a specific assurance by the Foreign Minister, Mr Carr, that the Australian government will assess the impact of the secret PRISM program, CLA has been unsuccessful in pinning down just who is carrying out this evaluation…if anyone is.

The obvious agency is IGIS, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security.  However, in reply to a letter from the CLA President, the Inspector-General, Dr Vivienne Thom, wrote:

The Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security oversights the activities of agencies of the Australian Intelligence Community…

I have no power to look at the activities of private organisations or of foreign agencies.  I also do not generally comment on matters relating to Australian Government policy…

                                                                                               Letter from IGIS 26 August 2013

 In a letter back to Dr Thom, the President of CLA, Dr Klugman, wrote:

As IGIS oversights Australian intelligence agencies, surely those agencies evaluate the impact of US intelligence agencies activities, like PRISM, on the Australian community?  They use US Intelligence.  What is the impact of that use on Australians?

                                                                                                Letter dated 31 August 2013

 CLA will continue to press for answers in the public interest.



Dr Kris Klugman President CLA
Dr Kris Klugman
President CLA

Kristine Klugman’s doctorate from ANU is in Political Communications. Her Masters in Community Studies and BA in History are from Macquarie. She served on the NSW Legal Aid Commission, was a foundation member of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and a researcher with the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, helping to establish the Criminal Justice tertiary course for police and prison officers in NSW. Kristine was the first female board member and full-time deputy president managing the NSW Fire Brigades. Her OAM was for ‘services to education and the community’. She was the first female President of Australia’s oldest museum, The Australian Museum, helped to found the Museum of Fire in NSW and served as a member of the interim council of the National Maritime Museum. Since 2003, she has been the founding president of Civil Liberties Australia.

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