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Australian Government Approves 'Extraordinarily Intrusive' Surveillance Legislation

Stewart Perrie


Australian Government Approves 'Extraordinarily Intrusive' Surveillance Legislation

The Australian government has approved the Identify and Disrupt Bill 2021, which has been labelled 'unprecedented' and 'extraordinarily intrusive'.

The legislation gives Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission new powers to take control of people's social media accounts without the need for a judge's warrant.

They will be able to modify or delete the data of suspected offenders, collect intelligence on criminal networks, and take control of a suspected offenders' online account.

It's meant to target paedophiles and criminals lurking on the dark web.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw has assured the public that the law will be used 'responsibly' to hunt down Australia's worst offenders.

He told 2GB Radio: "They have prolific networks; some of these networks are up to 40,000 paedophiles globally on these servers, and a lot of them are Australians.

"We're the third biggest, sadly, global consumer of child exploitation material."

Even when the legislation passed through the Senate, people were worried about how low of a bar the legislation set if an officer wanted to investigate someone.

Tutanota noted that an officer wouldn't need a judge to grant the warrant and it could instead be issued by a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, included a number of amendments to make sure that warrants could only be issued if they were 'reasonably necessary and proportionate', and that it would only last for five days.

However, privacy advocates are concerned about the scope of the legislation and how much power it gives authorities.

Get Up has started a petition to get the bill repealed.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"The AFP can log into your Email, your Facebook, Instagram any other social media, and not only view it but actually alter it however they want," the petition states.

"They can send emails on your behalf, they can post things on your behalf, they can engage in criminal activity on your behalf in order to reach their objective. And if they want to throw you under the bus, you're just collateral damage.

"This will not only turn Australia into a bigger surveillance state, but it will make the government the enemy of Australians."

Kieran Pender, the senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, also told Guardian Australia that the powers 'are unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive, they should have been narrowed to what is strictly necessary and subject to robust safeguards'.

Pirate Party Australia Treasurer, John August, added: "This latest bill has bypassed recommendations about oversight, and also stands in the Dark Shadow of past Government abuse. While they talk about the 'Dark Web', it's amazing how 'Dark' they themselves have become."

The legislation grants anyone who assists with government hacking protection from civil liability and anyone who refuses to comply can face up to 10 years behind bars.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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