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If that’s PRISM, what’s ASIO up to?

It’s been a great week if you like conspiracy theories. The world has woken up to the real possibility that America is sucking vast quantities of real time data off the Internet, reportedly with the cooperation of major providers like Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook.

In this week’s CrossTalk podcast Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says the public response is not mirrored by the politicians in Canberra: “While people have reacted with horror at the extent of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program, the Australian government has shrugged its shoulders and says it is for your own protection”.

So, does this mean ASIO is accepting data from PRISM and offering some in return? Ludlam says he always suspected the intent of increasing local surveillance powers was a quid pro quo measure with the United States.

Which raises the question, just how much are authorities gathering within this country? We look at some of the reported figures and discuss the social consequences of surveillance with Jon Lawrence from Electronic Frontiers Australia.

And what if ASIO wanted to embark on a program as ambitious as PRISM, gathering data to fill up the high security communications and data centre being built at HMAS Harman in the ACT. Could it be done without services providers being aware? It’s a question put to Paul Brooks from the Internet Society.

Human rights barrister Julian Burnside also flags his concern that whatever the agency accessing data, without judicial involvement, or some form of independent oversight, mistakes will always be made.

As always, you don’t need a warrant to listen in to CrossTalk. Just press play.

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