In a hardly-surprising revelation, it's emerged that Australian government security agencies knew about PRISM before Edward Snowden went public with his leaks about the surveillance system.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation had requested access to a protected briefing to the Attorney General that was prepared in March. While the briefing has been withheld, the ABC has confirmed the existence of the briefing.
Documents obtained by the ABC also reveal that the Attorney-General at the time, Mark Dreyfus, was advised that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) does not have backdoor access to the National Broadband Network. The NBN infrastructure is described in the documents as “strategic and significant”, with all interception “undertaken strictly in accordance with the law”.
The documents, released under freedom of information, have many redactions, some of them curious. For example, media reports that are apparently included in the original document are redacted from the released version, presumably because it would endanger national security for Australians to know what published stories were brought to the A-G's attention.
Similarly, talking points prepared about PRISM for use in Question Time were also redacted.
The ABC says government agencies like the ASD knew about PRISM as far back as 2007, and a brief was prepared for the A-G's office in March of this year.
The redaction of the documents was criticised by outgoing Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Electronic Frontiers Australia's Sean Rintel. Rintel told the ABC the government isn't even trying “at least reassure the Australian public that what it was doing is in its interest.”
The redacted documents that were released have ben posted to Scribd, here. ®