Fugitive US National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has revealed the extent of some of Australia's participation in the giant surveillance programme that allegedly monitors internet as well as voice and SMS data worldwide.
PRISM slides provided to Brazilian news organisation O Globo by Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who broke the story of global surveillance, point to four Australian signals intelligence bases and the Waihopai facility taking part in the XKEYSCORE categorising and processing system.
According to Fairfax, the US-Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap, Alice Springs contribute to the XKEYSCORE system, along with the Darwin Shoal Bay Receiving Station, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Facility at Geraldton and the HMAS Harman naval comms station outside Canberra.
XKeyscore is said by authors Marc Ambinder and D B Grady to be part of the NSA RAGTIME domestic counter-terrorism information collection operation instituted by the Bush administration, that as many as fifty companies provide data to.
Ambinder describes it as such: "At Fort Meade, a program called XKEYSCORE processes all signals before they are shunted off to various “production lines” that deal with specific issues. PINWALE is the main NSA database for recorded signals intercepts.
It is compartmentalized by keywords (the NSA calls them “selectors”). Metadata is stored in a database called MARINA and is generally retained for five years."
On top of the abovementioned databases, the NSA NUCLEON system keeps track of voice calls.
The slides published by O Globo also indicate that real-time surveillance of internet users is taking place, with logons and other activity being monitored.