Surveillance bill, AFP and ACIC identify and disrupt criminal online activity

Unprecedented surveillance capabilities are granted by a new laws.

Earlier today, both houses of Congress passed a new bill that will grant law enforcement unprecedented powers to "detect and stop significant criminal conduct occurring online."

There are many, however, who claim that the policy is "dangerous and overreaching" because it does not incorporate major suggestions made by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).

Law enforcement agencies' capabilities will be significantly enhanced by the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020, which provides three new authorities.

They will be able to collect intelligence on criminal networks operating online, including on the dark web, using anonymizing technology.

Karen Andrews MP
Karen Andrews MP

This will empower the AFP and ACIC to disrupt criminal activity by modifying data belonging to suspects.

AFP and ACIC can seize control of a person's internet account in order to get proof of illegal behaviour.

According to Karen Andrews, Australia's law enforcement authorities need new tools to stay up with technology.

Our amendments will provide greater options for the AFP in pursuing organized crime organizations and individuals who commit the most terrible crimes against minors," she said.

Human Rights Law Centre senior lawyer Kieran Pender, however, says the new law comes at a democratic price.

When it comes to powers, he says, "they should have been limited to what is absolutely necessary and subject to stringent safeguards"

Accordingly, the committee unanimously recommended considerable adjustments."

It is concerning that the Morrison government hurried these laws through Parliament in less than 24 hours, rather than accepting the Committee's findings and providing time for consideration of later revisions.

The public interest in journalists' work and interactions with whistleblowers must be evaluated before police can use these new powers against a journalist.

It was also raised by the Law Council of Australia that the bill had been passed without essential recommendations being taken into law.

According to Law Council president Jacoba Brasch, "delaying deliberation and implementation for an indefinite period, potentially years, fails to provide a sufficient safety or assurance."

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