By now it should be apparent that if you use the internet your activities are being monitored and stored by one of the intelligence agencies in the "Five Eyes" nations, of which Australia is a member.
Whether there are enough spooks sitting behind desks, looking at the information available to them, is another question.
The latest revelations to come out of the US National Security Agency's mass global surveillance programs on Tuesday, thanks to leaked documents from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, are that the spy agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts around the world. If you use Facebook, Yahoo!, Hotmail or Gmail, it's likely the agency knows who you are and who you have contacted.
Australia has been linked to helping its US counterpart in the collection of the address book information.
The revelations are not surprising given that we already know intelligence agencies have agreements in place to tap many of the world's undersea cables. In late August, for example, Fairfax Media revealed that Australia's Defence Signals Directorate was in a partnership with British, American and Singaporean intelligence agencies to tap undersea fibre-optic telecommunications cables that link Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Telstra was also revealed in July to have agreed more than a decade ago to store huge volumes of electronic communications it carried between Asia and America for potential surveillance by US intelligence agencies.
Once an agency has access to the fibre-optic telecommunications cables that connect Australia to the US, it's all over; they can do almost anything they want with the data as long as they have large enough data repositories. And even if the data is encrypted, it has been revealed that intelligence agencies have access to another program, codenamed Bullrun, that has been used to secretly descramble high-level internet encryption systems globally.
In early July, it was also revealed by Fairfax that the US-Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs and three Defence Signals Directorate facilities – the Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Facility at Geraldton and the naval communications station HMAS Harman outside Canberra – were among contributors to another NSA collection program, codenamed XKeyscore. It reportedly processes all signals before they are shunted off to various "production lines" that deal with specific issues and the exploitation of different data types (voice, video, call records and internet records) for analysis.
Another program, PRISM, was revealed to collect stored internet communications based on demands made to internet companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, Facebook, Google, Apple and Dropbox.
Other programs are likely to surface too, once journalists search more documents given to them by Snowden. But whether the average punter will change their internet habits remains to be seen.
It appears only government agencies that might have something to hide will take action. For others, it remains quite the task to stop using services such as Google or Facebook.
Some countries are going to extra lengths to avoid the snooping. Brazil this week confirmed it would set-up its own in-house email system, while the Indian High Commission in London has already reverted to using typewriters to compose sensitive documents following the NSA spying scandal.
"Top secret cables are now written on typewriters which cannot be tracked," Jaimini Bhagwati, the Indian High Commissioner to Britain, recently told The Times of India.
Many internet giants are beginning to change the way they deliver their websites to consumers, enabling encryption. Following Tuesday's revelations, one such giant, Yahoo, said it would enable encryption by default for webmail users. It's unknown whether the NSA will be able to bypass this, but given revelations so far, it's very likely.