Bill boosts Australian Security intelligence Organisation digital spying

July 17, 2014

Australian Government has this morning introduced a bill to expand the legislative powers of spy agencies and according to reports emerging from Canberra there has been a delay in putting forward legislation that would require telcos and other service providers to retain communications data for at least 24 months. The country’s Attorney-General George Brandis outlined the contents of his National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 bill, which was introduced in Parliament yesterday. The proposed legislative changes contained in the bill are based on last year’s recommendation by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which examined changes to interception of communications, access to data and the potential reform of telecommunications security. According to Attorney-General, Australian Government will attempt to implement 21 changes recommended by the fourth chapter of the report out of 22, in order to modernise the “obsolete” Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act of 1979 for a technologically-driven operating environment and give intelligence agencies access to a new range of tools.

ASIO Director-General David Irvine said; “Very frequently, people use innocent computers to attack other networks. We need the ability to track that attack, including through the innocent third party computer.” He added that “In the current operating environment there is a need to know what Australians are up to, particularly if they are going to come home and commit terrorist acts in Australia. It’s been very difficult to collect information on them.” ASIO’s Director General added that mandatory data retention was “absolutely crucial” to law enforcement and intelligence investigations.“Almost every Australian Security Intelligence Organization investigation and a very large number of law enforcement investigations depend at least in the first instance on access to retained data, telecommunications data, call data, that’s been retained by the telephone companies,” Irvine is quoted as saying. “We don’t collect it and retain it ourselves.”

The bill modernises the way Australian Security Intelligence Organisation accesses computers which allows one warrant for a computer to extend to all computers at a location and associated to the relevant person. According to the Attorney General, the act will be amended such that the definition of “computer” in the Act includes all computers operating in a network.The new law also proposes that only one warrant be required for a series of surveillance techniques conducted as part of an investigation therefore removing the need for a warrant for each individual surveillance effort. The proposed legislation would also allow Australia’s foreign intelligence agency ASIS to collect information on Australians located outside the country and share it with ASIO which the agency is currently required to seek ministerial approval to do. The bill will be reviewed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security until September 8 and is expected to be rubber-stamped with little changes. Both current and past governments have proposed new rules forcing telecommunications companies to store user data for a minimum period of 24 months, but its not yet a bill.Road for criminals in Australia has just gotten tougher and rougher.Better be a law abiding citizens otherwise the ‘deep state’ gonna get ya!

Contador Harrison