Ludlam to raise TrapWire concerns at hearing

The Greens senator still has questions even after law enforcement agencies denied using the surveillance system.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam isn’t backing down on the TrapWire controversy even after Australian government agencies denied they are using the surveillance system.

Recently leaked documents by Wikileaks lifted the lid on the TrapWire program, a surveillance system in the US, Canada and the UK that uses data from CCTV cameras to predict potential criminal activity. Since then, Ludlam has been asking whether Australian law enforcement uses the same system.

After the Senate denied a motion by Ludlam to require an answer from the prime minister, Ludlam sent his questions directly to several Australian law enforcement agencies. All of the agencies replied this month that they do not use TrapWire.

However, Ludlam does not appear ready to drop the government surveillance issue. The Greens senator plans to question the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Attorney-General department about TrapWire and similar technology at an upcoming budget estimates hearing 16 October, a Ludlam adviser told Computerworld Australia.

“The Department of Defence has not previously used, does not currently use, nor is considering using, the TrapWire surveillance system,” Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, wrote in a response to Ludlam dated 11 September.

“ASIO does not engage in random monitoring of the Australian population,” wrote Attorney-General Nicola Roxon on 13 September. “ASIO's investigations are targeted against specific behaviours and activities relevant to security as defined in the ASIO Act.”

“The AFP is aware of the media reporting on TrapWire,” Roxon continued. “The AFP has no previous knowledge of that particular system, nor does the AFP use the system. The AFP has no procurement plans in place to acquire the system.”

“The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has not in the past, do not currently and are not considering using the TrapWire surveillance system,” wrote Minister for Home Affairs, Jason Clare, in a 19 Sept response. Neither does the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, he said.

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