A scared government aims to increase spying on Australians

Photo by Kym Smith/Daily Telegraph: ASD headquarters
Contributed from Victoria

The government has become so frightened of the citizens of Australia that it is about to give the Australian Signal Directorate (ASD) the power to spy on us all, by amending the Intelligence Services Act of 2001.

Surveillance of Australian citizens is not new. Leaked documents however, show that this might be stepped up to a whole new level.

To date, the ASD’s function has been to carry out overseas spying. It is now going to be turned on Australians. This is already being carried out by ASIO, the Federal Police and a number of other agencies.If the ASD is to be brought in, the scale of the operation will be increased.

Apparently, the ASD will contribute its technical expertise to the other agencies to lift cyber spying to a new level. Under the plan, anyone’s emails, bank account details and text messages and phone records, can be intercepted, without the person’s knowledge.

And the ASD will be given the power to force government agencies and private businesses to hand over data.

According to information the Daily Telegraph says it has received, the rational given by the writer of the plan, Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs Mike Pezzullo, is to target child exploitation networks, international criminal syndicates and terror organisations.

Don’t believe it. These activities can be dealt with through existing criminal law and enforcement, including the use of warrants to gather information, making arrests and issuing criminal charges. Increasing spying as outlined is unnecessary. There must be another, unmentioned reason.

This looks like a power grab.

A key target is the Internet and social media, which have become an important means of communication and transmitting information. The capacity to apply widespread censorship and silencing of critics, will be in place. A warrant will not be required. There will be no accountability. It will just be targetted censorship for certain audiences depending on the content being viewed.

Some within the intelligence community and department of Home Affairs, the umbrella under which the various intelligence agencies exist, are not happy with the way this is going. A few have even been prepared to leak information to the public. This alone, should sound the warning alarm.

When Justice Margaret Stone, whose job it is to review the activities of the six existing intelligence agencies, warns the government that the plan steps over the line, everyone should be concerned.





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