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Greens take aim at warrantless surveillance

Stephanie McDonald | June 11, 2013
Scott Ludlam has called for the Australian government to disclose its knowledge of the NSA's PRISM program

The Greens plan to introduce a bill to ensure law enforcement agencies only access citizens' private data under a warrant.

The Greens' communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, said it would be a first step towards "winding back the kind of surveillance overreach revealed by the PRISM whistleblower".

Edward Snowden, an employee of National Security Agency contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, recently revealed details of the NSA surveillance program.

Snowden alleged that PRISM gave the NSA direct access to private data held on servers owned by companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.

"Law enforcement agencies - not including ASIO - made 293,501 requests for telecommunications data in 2011-12, without a warrant or any judicial oversight. Under the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act, that's entirely legal," Ludlam said.

"Vast amounts of private data are being accessed - including the precise location of everyone who carries a smartphone - without any recourse to the courts. A law enforcement agency simply fills out a very basic form. My bill will return to the system where they will need a warrant."

Ludlam said he would question the government about its knowledge of PRISM when he introduces the bill.

"Many people are appalled at the current extent of surveillance in the wake of the PRISM scandal," Ludlam said.

The Greens senator has been an outspoken critic of proposed 'data retention' laws that would force service providers, such as telcos, to retain certain data about use of their services and make it available to law enforcement agencies.


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