PRISM Break Part 2: FOI report shows March Australian briefing

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ABCNewsLogo I was interviewed on ABC AM by Will Ockenden about the ABC’s FOI report showing that Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department prepared a briefing about the US NSA’s PRISM program in March, before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden went public. I said, among other things:

There’s an awful lot that’s not being talked about there. And the lack of oversight over these kinds of what we now know to be very large-scale surveillance operations is the concerning thing about what’s going on here.

The documents were requested from 2007 and yet there’s only four and they’re very heavily redacted and one was not even allowed. So I mean there’s obviously a lot going on there that is not being talked about and not even actually having been included in that Freedom of Information release.

I also added some more comments in response to a request from ITNews:

Commenting on the heavily blacked-out documents and refusal to produce others, Rintel said the the story was really in what wasn’t present.

“The interesting point to me stems from there just being four documents returned,” Rintel said.

“Clearly the FOI request was being construed extremely narrowly, basically requiring the request to include the actual names of every relevant program rather than considering anything related or general,” he added.

I have been concerned about Australian oversight of such programs since the Snowden revelations, as I noted in my article Nine reasons you should care about NSA’s PRISM surveillance.

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