American computer specialist Edward Snowden
Australia's spy agency offered to share information about its own citizens with its foreign intelligence partners, according to leaked documents published Monday.
The latest revelations by US intelligence fugitive Edward Snowden,
reported by The Guardian Australia, show that the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) discussed the option of sharing "medical, legal or religious information".
The partners included the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, collectively known as 5-Eyes, with the document, marked secret, based on notes from a conference hosted by Britain in 2008.
It follows a Snowden release last month showing Australian spy agencies tried to listen to the phone calls of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as well as his wife and inner circle, sparking a diplomatic crisis.
According to the report, the DSD, now known as the Australian Signals Directorate, told its global partners it could share "bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national".
"Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue," notes from the conference said, although the agency acknowledged that more substantial interrogation of the material would require a warrant.
The newspaper said the document shed new light on "the extent to which intelligence agencies at that time were considering sharing information with foreign surveillance partners".
"It provides further confirmation that, to some extent at least, there is warrantless surveillance of Australians' personal metadata."
Metadata refers to the information people generate when they use technology such as phones and computers.
The newspaper cited top human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson as saying the latest revelations increased concerns that the agency could be operating outside its legal mandate.
Former US National Security Agency contractor Snowden was given asylum in Russia in August, to the fury of the United States where he is wanted on espionage charges following disclosures that have provoked international uproar and strained ties with allies.