Erosion of Privacy in Australia: Basic facts you need to know



As civil liberties in Australia continue to be diminished on a daily basis, it is imperative that you know the following essential facts about the destruction of privacy domestically. It is also imperative that you spread this information amongst family, friends and anybody who is concerned about a network of unaccountable organisations collecting and sharing your private data on a national and international basis.


In 2013, Edward Snowden leaked the most significant archive of classified documents in US history since the Pentagon Papers. Amongst the revelations of NSA spying and ‘Orwellian’ surveillance reach, the documents also revealed a connection detailing Australian intelligence organisations and their role in a global network of data monitoring, collecting and sharing.

– Amongst revelations of metadata mining by the United States through its controversial PRISM program, it subsequently uncovered a unilateral intelligence community that includes Australia in a longstanding relationship. We have a responsibility for contributing to the network from our own region – most notably South East Asia. The information in the system is then available to any one of the ‘Five Eyes’ countries – the US, The UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand (via ABC News).

– Unknown by most, Australia has 6 primary intelligence organisations. These are: the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Office of National Assessments (ONA), the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO), the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) (Formerly DSD) and the Defence Security Authority (DSA). All organisations regularly conduct domestic and international intelligence operations.

The first disclosure of Australian involvement in US global surveillance identified four facilities in the country that contribute to a key American intelligence collection program: The US-Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs and three Australian Signals Directorate facilities: the Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Facility at Geraldton and the Naval Communications Station HMAS Harman outside Canberra. These facilities, among others, contribute to the NSA’s collection program codenamed X-Keyscore.

– Currently, 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 in 2012 without even recording why and when these intercepts had taken place.

– The shocking truth is that government agencies can access telephone and Internet data records without a warrant from a judge. This includes state and federal police agencies, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Medicare.

– 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 legal warrants (not including illegal) 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.

– Since 2005, the size and workforce of ASIO has increased by a whopping 62%. ASIO has grown from a $60 million organisation in 2001 to have a budget of $350 million today. From 12 employees in 1949, ASIO has grown to have 1,800 professional spies in 2010 and have just opened a new $600 million headquarters. Increased powers of ASIO in the last decade have grown to include the ability to hack ‘suspect’ computers through a program called Back Orifice.

– Australia’s law enforcement agencies can legally claim that a person is committing an act of terrorism if they are someone who “destroy(s) trust and to spread(s) fear and paranoia”. Is this a clear and objective definition in your opinion?

– Unlike the CIA, FBI, NSA and others – the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is exempt from Freedom of Information requests. ASIO is described as “the only agency in the Australian intelligence community authorised in the normal course of its duties to undertake investigations into the activities of Australian persons.” You can also be legally detained for refusing to answer any question asked by an ASIO officer and the general public have no way of obtaining any files opened about themselves by ASIO.

– The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) (Now the Australian Signals Directorate) offered to share information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its ‘Five Eyes’ partners according to documents leaked by Snowden. The document shows the partners discussing whether or not to share “medical, legal or religious information” in bulk, as the DSD is not restricted to some of the privacy restraints imposed by other countries (via Guardian Australia).

– Companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and twitter use tracking cookies to gather data on users. Terms and conditions on such social networking sites read that any material posted (photos, statuses, etc.) can be manipulated, edited and sold to third-parties without your personal knowledge of it happening (via Gari Sullivan). Australian security agencies employ private contractors like the National Open Source Intelligence Centre (NOSIC) to monitor, collate, and report on publically accessible information about individuals and organisations.

– UK-based company Path Intelligence is known for intercepting mobile phone signals to track each person as they move around a particular area. Currently, The Path Intelligence system has been in use in Surfers Paradise for 12 months and has provided “invaluable data” to local businesses and law enforcement. The Brisbane CBD is now proposing plans to introduce the technology to give “insight into visitor movements..”

– Similar tracking assets have been utilised by security organisations to track and monitor individuals in other parts of the country. This is now being supplemented with media access control (MAC) systems which can track smartphones and is already being used in three Westfield shopping centres.

– A proposed report to the Attorney-General (who ASIO is ‘accountable’ to) in 2012 called for a drastic expansion of intelligence powers in Australia, including retaining the telephone and Internet data of every Australian for up to two years. Furthermore, intelligence agencies would be given increased access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Currently, the proposal is still being discussed.

TOTT News encourage YOU to do your own research and discover more about how Australian government agencies are systematically chipping away your privacy and freedom, and what you can do to resist, take action and have your voice heard.

Evil cannot be committed in the light; it seeks to hide where the average citizen does not understand the threat it imposes – as it thrives from secrecy and darkness. Only light can stop the darkness and exposing the truth is the only way to put an end to the Orwellian nation Australia has become.





Terrorism and Intelligence in Australia; ASIO and National Surveillance
– Dr. Frank Cain

ASIO Uncovered
– Ann Curthoys

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization: An Unofficial History
– Dr. Frank Cain

More intelligence related articles can be found here:


20 comments on “Erosion of Privacy in Australia: Basic facts you need to know”

  1. Good article exposing the puss seeping through the Australian nation. ASIO don’t work for australia, they work for their head office MI5 in the UK. Fascism is expanding within australia at an alarming rate, as is communism. Here’s what we, the people need to know – governments are not there to serve the people, regardless of what they say, they are there to CONTROL the people. Doublespeak is alive and well. Joe Hockey right now is bringing in legislation to allow banks to do ‘bail-ins’ (steal our bank deposits when the banks’ derivatives crash). Recommended: “The Committee of 300” by Dr John Coleman. The Committee of 300 used to be called The British East India Co.

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