The Australian government has been moving towards a surveillance state for some years already. Now they are putting the nail in the coffin with an unprecedented surveillance bill that allows the police to hack your device, collect or delete your data, and take over your social media accounts; without sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse of these new powers.
This month the Australian government has passed a sweeping surveillance bill, worse than any similar legislation in any other five eye country.
The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 gives the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) three new powers for dealing with online crime:
- Data disruption warrant: gives the police the ability to “disrupt data” by modifying, copying, adding, or deleting it.
- Network activity warrant: allows the police to collect intelligence from devices or networks that are used, or likely to be used, by those subject to the warrant
- Account takeover warrant: allows the police to take control of an online account (e.g. social media) for the purposes of gathering information for an investigation.
The two Australian law enforcement bodies AFP and ACIC will soon have the power to modify, add, copy, or delete your data should you become a suspect in the investigation of a serious crime.
What makes this legislation even worse is that there is no judicial oversight. A data disruption or network activity warrant could be issued by a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a judge’s warrant is not needed.
Australian companies obliged to comply
When presented with such warrant from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Australian companies, system administrators etc. must comply, and actively help the police to modify, add, copy, or delete the data of a person under investigation. Refusing to comply could have one end up in jail for up to ten years, according to the new bill.
Politicians justify the need for the bill by stating that it is intended to fight child exploitation (CSAM) and terrorism. However, the bill itself enables law enforcement to investigate any “serious Commonwealth offence” or “serious State offence that has a federal aspect”.
As soon as it says a law is against Child Porn you know it’s going to be used for a whole load of other things that wouldn’t stand up to public inspection. But who can be against anti-Child Porn stuff, right?