The Australian Greens will introduce a Bill next week to strengthen regulation of data collection on Australians, returning normal warrant procedures to law enforcement agencies accessing peoples' private data.
"This is the first step to winding back the kind of surveillance overreach revealed by the PRISM whistleblower," Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said.
"Law enforcement agencies - not including ASIO - made 293,501 requests for telecommunications data in 2011-12, without a warrant or any judicial oversight.* Under the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act, that's entirely legal.
"Vast amounts of private data are being accessed - including the precise location of everyone who carries a smartphone - without any recourse to the courts. A law enforcement agency simply fills out a very basic form. My bill will return to the system where they will need a warrant.*
"We are seeing unprecedented surveillance overreach by the United States Government, and new revelations that this information is being covertly shared with the British authorities. The Australian Government now needs to disclose the extent to which it has been given access to the PRISM system to spy on Australians, and the usual bland assurances about national security will no longer wash.
"When I introduce the Bill, I will be asking the government to answer questions about who knew about the PRISM program, how much data is shared, and whether the Australian Privacy Principles are meaningless for citizens and Parliamentarians.
"Many people are appalled at the current extent of surveillance in the wake of the PRISM scandal. The Greens have been the only party actively working to protect privacy and the rights of Australians online, consistently resisting the creep of surveillance powers.
"Since I have been in the Senate, the Greens have worked with advocates and ISPs to stop mandatory internet censorship and currently, to defeat the draconian data retention proposal which would make even more private data available to systems like PRISM.
*See page 66 of the Telecommunications Interceptions Act Annual report 2011-12: http://www.ag.gov.au/NationalSecurity/TelecommunicationsSurveillance/Documents/Annual%20Report%20for%20the%20year%20ending%2030%20June%202012.doc
*Senator Ludlam asked the AFP for the forms ( http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/estimates/afp-template-forms-telecommunications-intercept-and-stored-communications-warrants ) used to request information in May 2012 Senate Estimates: http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/estimates/australian-federal-police-2