Photo: Jonathan McIntosh

Socialist Alternative hosted an anti-surveillance meeting at their West End office early last week.

After the release of information gathered by Edward Snowden there has been a growing worry that citizens are under mass surveillance by their own state. This fear seems to have reached Australia due to its close relationship with USA at the Pine Gap.

Socialist Alternative‘s Jessica Payne said the collection of metadata is done on an enormous scale, not just in the USA, but also in the UK.

GCHQ can collect 21.6 petabytes a day,” Ms Payne said.

“In comparison that is [approximately] 2.5 million DVDs.”

Ms Payne also mentioned that Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and USA is known for their cooperation in the intelligence operation Five Eyes. It has its origin from a 1946 intelligence sharing agreement between USA and UK.

“Bob Carr has denied that Australians are being surveilled and that everybody should not worry,” Ms Payne said.

Attendees at the meeting were invited to add to the debate regarding the alleged mass surveillance that is going on in western countries such as Australia.

Steve Barnes said Australia allegedly installed listening gear alongside with the communication equipment when cooperating with other countries to install submarine communications cables.

John Lamb said the Australian government was well aware what was happening in East Timor in 1975 and they also knew about the slaying of The Balibo Five long before the public was told.

“Who are they targeting [with this mass surveillance],” Mr Lamb asked.

In regards to the case against Bradley Manning Sarah Giles said he is accused of aiding the enemy, but questioned how that is possible.

“Who is the enemy,” Ms Giles asked.

Which is an important question to be ask if most countries operate under the idea that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It is difficult to fathom a state is willing to view their own citizens as enemies, even though it is not unheard of.

At the end of the meeting Tor Browser was mentioned as a good piece of software to safely access the web.

Editor’s note: Since late last week, after this meeting, Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy.