Legislation passed in Australia 6 months ago (Sept 2014) is (errily?!) like Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism or Secret Police legislation in Canada.
It is deliberate.
There is an intelligence alliance (excerpts below)
- 5 members (the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, N.Z.)
- acronymn FVEY
- hence the handle “Five Eyes”
- … which to this day remains the most extensive known espionage alliance in history.
- older people may remember Echelon which basically became Five Eyes
The article about the legislation in Australia (Sept 2014 – journalists and whistleblowers will go to jail . . . ) follows the info on Five Eyes.
I wonder whether Australia told Harper (former Prime Minister, Canada), hey! the legislation is easy to pass!
What Harper did not count on is Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party. Elizabeth immediately understood the dangers in the legislation and went to work. Seventeen days later the NDP saw the light and joined the opposition. The Liberals plan to vote for the legislation and then change it later. (?)
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The “Five Eyes”, often abbreviated as “FVEY“, refer to an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
The origins of the FVEY can be traced back to World War II, when the Atlantic Charter was issued by the Allies to lay out their goals for a post-war world. During the course of the Cold War, the ECHELON surveillance system was initially developed by the FVEY to monitor the communications of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, although it allegedly was later used to monitor billions of private communications worldwide.
In the late 1990s, the existence of ECHELON was disclosed to the public, triggering a major debate in the European Parliament and, to a lesser extent, the United States Congress. As part of efforts in the ongoing War on Terror since 2001, the FVEY further expanded their surveillance capabilities, with much emphasis placed on monitoring the World Wide Web. The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden described the Five Eyes as a “supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn’t answer to the known laws of its own countries”. Documents leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed that the FVEY have been spying on one another’s citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on domestic spying.
Despite the impact of Snowden’s disclosures, some experts in the intelligence community believe that no amount of global concern or outrage will affect the Five Eyes relationship, which to this day remains the most extensive known espionage alliance in history. … MORE >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes
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. . . Due to its status as a secret treaty, its existence was not known to the Prime Minister of Australia until 1973, and it was not disclosed to the public until 2005. On 25 June 2010, for the first time in history, the full text of the agreement was publicly released by Britain and the United States, and can now be viewed online. Shortly after its release, the seven-page UKUSA Agreement was recognized by Time magazine as one of the Cold War‘s most important documents, with immense historical significance.
Currently, the global surveillance disclosure by Edward Snowden has shown that the intelligence-sharing activities between the First World allies of the Cold War are rapidly shifting into the digital realm of the Internet.
SEE ALSO: Elephant in the Room
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Journalists and whistleblowers will go to jail under new national security laws, Australia
(There is a video clip at the URL)
There was no concerted campaign, no unified push by the media to stop this bill, which dramatically expands the powers of intelligence agencies while creating new offences for disclosing information about their operations
By Paul Farrell
Journalists will be jailed. It might take a year, or two, or even longer. But journalists and whistleblowers will face prison as a result of the first tranche of national security legislation that was passed in the Senate late on Thursday.
And they laughed as they did it. As the Coalition, Labor and the Palmer United party voted in favour of this bill, which dramatically expands the powers of intelligence agencies while creating new offences for disclosing information about the operations they will undertake with these new powers, there was a jovial air in the chamber.
It’s a bill that makes many broad changes to our intelligence gathering apparatus. It introduces a class of “special intelligence operation” for Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) missions where intelligence officers can gain immunity from using force or committing other offences.
So how would these laws work? We have many examples of intelligence reporting that could be caught within the scope of such an offence. Say, for instance, the bugging of East Timorese leaders during their negotiations with Australians were to happen today. If it were declared a ‘special intelligence operation’ – a process which only involves approval from the attorney general – reporting of the fact this bugging occurred, the details around it, the nature of the surveillance, could be caught within the scope of this offence. The same could equally apply for reporting the Indonesian president’s phone was targeted by Australian intelligence agencies, if it were declared a special operation.
Among Asio’s other new powers is the ability to obtain massive warrants for effectively the whole of the internet. They also create new powers for Asio to conduct “optical surveillance” without a warrant. There are many other small expansions that lead to a general widening of the powers of our intelligence agencies.
These are serious changes and they warrant serious scrutiny. But the passage of the bill has been all too easy. After it was initially introduced into the Senate it was quickly referred to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security. This committee is dominated by Coalition and Labor senators – the Greens senator Scott Ludlam and independent MP Andrew Wilkie lost their places after the last election.
The catch-all disclosure offence for special intelligence operations remained, with some minor suggestions for change. There was a recommendation to clarify that “recklessness” is the mental element required to commit the offence. A note was also suggested in the explanatory memorandum that the public prosecutor needed to consider the public interest before commencing a prosecution. This should be little comfort to any of us, when the options existed to have a real public interest defence, or simply not have the offence at all.
Earlier this week the Senate began debating the bill. The government’s amendments sailed through. Labor capitulated almost entirely on these enhanced powers – and, disappointingly, on the disclosure offence as well. Despite the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, initially saying the government would “need to make changes to remove that consequence” if journalists could face prosecution, the fact is the consequence still potentially exists.
Scott Ludlam fought hard to keep the debate going, and moved a series of amendments that would have protected journalists and whistleblowers, wind back some of the broad new computer warrant powers and increase oversight of Asio.
“I simply do not believe and cannot in good conscience vote, particularly in the climate that we’re in, for continued and relentless expansion of powers for these agencies at a time when the only person who the Australian government had established … to investigate whether the laws that we already have are necessary and proportionate has said in many cases they are not,” he said.
Ludlam spent considerable time questioning how the laws would work and whether they were appropriately crafted – what the limits of the computer warrant powers were, how the disclosure offences would apply – and he was accused of filibustering by the attorney general. Independent senator Nick Xenophon and Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm also raised many serious questions about the scope of the powers being granted.
But in the end the bill passed. Only the Greens, Leyonhjelm, John Madigan and Xenophon refused to support the amended laws.
Brandis, in a late night third-reading speech, said: “What we have achieved tonight is to ensure that those who protect us, particularly in a newly danger age, have the strong powers and capabilities that they need.”
Really, we can only blame ourselves. Could all journalists, collectively, have done more than throw together a handful of submissions? Most major news organisations in Australia raised concerns about the bill and the new offences. But there was no concerted campaign, no unified push to stop these disclosure offences succeeding. We’re now stuck with these laws, probably until someone is made an example of to spur journalists into action.
There is a small comfort in all of this and that is that the laws simply won’t work as a deterrent. They won’t discourage whistleblowers. And they won’t discourage fearless journalists from reporting on our intelligence agencies when it is in the public interest to do so. The disclosures by whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning – and the reporters who told these stories – have shown us that people are willing to take extraordinary actions, at great personal risk, when they believe it is necessary to do so.
It will just mean that some of them will go to jail.