How much does Tony Abbott hate The Guardian? There’s more revelations this morning via Edward Snowden that the then-Defence Signals Directorate was willing to share metadata generated by the communications of Australians citizens with the US National Security Agency. More questions the government must answer.

The Australian Signals Directorate must immediately provide a detailed response to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. When similar revelations emerged in Britain two weeks ago that the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters had shared information on UK citizens, the head of the UK Parliament’s Security and Intelligence Committee, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, immediately demanded an explanation from GCHQ.

The Snowden scoop shows DSD had no interest in even providing basic protections on Australian citizens’ metadata. Canadian intelligence agencies refused to share metadata with the NSA unless personal identifying information was removed. DSD, however, had no such qualms.

The revelations follow information released last week showing that the NSA had reserved unto itself a secret right to spy on the citizens of the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia even if the intelligence agencies of those countries refused to co-operate.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has yet to be appointed following the election. But an urgent task is to follow the British lead and demand to know from our spies why they were unwilling to protect Australians from foreign spying. Anything less will compound one failure to protect Australians with another.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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