Australia mass surveillance 'among most aggressive'

Lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald speaks with members of the media Tuesday, 7 April 2015, in Salt Lake City Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Greenwald said he was planning reports based on documents on Australian intelligence operations

Australia conducts one of the world's most aggressive mass surveillance programmes, US journalist Glenn Greenwald has said.

Mr Greenwald was one of the reporters who broke the 2013 story on internet surveillance by the UK and US.

He told broadcaster ABC that Australia was "probably the country that has got away with things the most" following those revelations.

But he said "we intend to change" that, implying there could be further leaks.

Mr Greenwald was speaking on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Lateline programme on Thursday night via videolink from Rio de Janeiro.

He said Australia was "one of the most aggressive countries that engage in mass surveillance as a member of the Five Eyes Partnership", a reference to the intelligence network established by Australia, US, UK, New Zealand and Canada.

"There are interesting documents about what Australia is doing to privacy rights - not just to their own citizens," he said, adding that he plans to release his reports "as soon as we can".

More to come

His comments came a month after whistleblower Edward Snowden criticised Australia's recently passed data retention laws at an Australian conference, where he spoke via videolink from Russia.

In March, Australia passed new laws compelling telecommunications companies to store customers' phone and computer metadata for up to two years. The government said this was aimed at combating terrorism.

Mr Snowden said he was planning to reveal more from documents taken from the US National Security Agency, including information on Australia's intelligence operations.

He said Australia's role in mass surveillance was similar to that of the UK.

"They'll collect everyone's communications, it's called pre-criminal investigation, which means they are watching everyone all the time," he said, adding that such information is also shared with other governments like the US and UK.

Mr Snowden, a former NSA contractor, exposed the extensive internet and phone surveillance being conducted by the US and the UK in 2013.

He passed NSA documents to Mr Greenwald and journalist Ewen Macaskill, who first broke the story in The Guardian.

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