American whistle-blower Edward Snowden has disclosed information on Australia's' involvement with the US NSA intelligence and surveillance program.
The collection program, codenamed X-Keyscore, reportedly "processes all signals before they are shunted off to various "'production lines' that deal with specific issues", according to the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
UPenn adds that X-Keyscore is part of the NSA RAGTIME, a domestic counter-terrorism information collection operation, to which 50 companies provide data to.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Snowden released documents that identified four facilities in Australia that are part of the US National Security Agency surveillance program.
The documents were published by the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, and point to four joint Australian-US facilities that are allegedly supporting the US NSA programs: Pine Gap, the Australian Defense Satellite Communications station, the Shoal Bay Receiving Station, and the naval communications station HMAS Harman.
According to The Canberra Times, the communication station HMAS Harman has been labeled as ''the new black vault,'' and is one of the few visible manifestations of Australia's deep involvement in mass surveillance and intelligence collection operations such as the US National Security Agency's PRISM program.
The news portal reported that Australian officers admitted to giving information to the US as an act of reciprocity for the intelligence that the US shares with Australia. Some of the information that Australia admits to receiving relates to North Korea's military threats, Australian citizens fighting in Syria, and missile acquisition attempts by Iran.
Australia, US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK form part of the intelligence group informally known as the "five eyes." According to The Guardian, the objective of the five eyes is to allow governments to gather and share information on each others' citizens, circumventing "the prohibition against gathering data on their own citizens."
The Australian Department of Defense Intelligence and Security published in its website that the country "benefits immeasurably from the Defense Signals Directorate’s partnership" with Canada, the UK, New Zealand and the US.
Australia frames these agencies' cooperation as positive.The Canberra Times reports that one Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officer declared: Without intelligence support, overwhelmingly provided by US capabilities, we would not have won the seat (at the United Nations Security Council).