Former US spy-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden has accused the Australian government of spying on its residents en masse and sharing this information with foreign allies.
Mr Snowden made the remarks via video link to a conference in Melbourne on the weekend.
“They are watching everybody all the time,” he told the audience at Progress 2015.
“They’re collecting information and they’re just putting in buckets that they can search through not only locally, not only in Australia, but they can then share this with foreign intelligence services.”
Most of Mr Snowden’s comments seemed to be directed specifically at meta data retention, a nation-wide program he described as “dangerous”.
The law requires telecommunication companies to store certain customer data so that police and spy agencies can access it in order to prosecute or prevent criminal activity.
“This is dangerous,” the former US government intelligence contractor said.
“This is not things that governments have ever traditionally been empowered to claim for themselves as authorities.”
Since 2013, Mr Snowden has lived in Russia as a political refugee.
He was formerly a system administrator for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).