Saturday, October 1

Australian Police Granted New Hacking Powers

Extensive legislation allowing officials from the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to target suspected online criminals has passed through the country’s parliament with bipartisan support.

On August 25, the bill of identification and interruption approved through the Australian Senate, introducing three new orders that allow authorities to take unprecedented action against suspected cybercriminals.

The new orders include authorizing police to hack into suspected criminals’ personal computers and networks, seize control of their online accounts and identities, and alter their data.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews praised the wide expansion of powers available to Australian authorities targeting cyber actors. “With our changes, the AFPs will have more tools to go after organized crime gangs to keep drugs off our streets and out of our community, and those who commit the most heinous crimes against children,” he said.

While both the government and the opposition supported the legislation, Senator Lidia Thorpe of the minority party The Greens criticized the bill for accelerating Australia’s march on the path of becoming a “surveillance state”:

“In effect, this bill would allow spy agencies to modify, copy or delete your data with a data blackout order; collect information about your online activities with a network activity order; they can also take over your social media and other online accounts and profiles with an account acquisition order. ”

“What’s worse, a member of the Administrative Appeals Court could issue the order to interrupt data and network activity […] It is outrageous that these orders did not come from a higher court judge, “he added.

While 60 amendments to the legislation were made after the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) recommended changes to the legislation, 10 of the 33 suggestions from the security committee were ignored.

Amendments added to the bill strengthen regulatory oversight of the new measures, include strengthened protections for journalists, and remove expanded powers after five years.

However, requests that orders be approved exclusively by a judge were excluded from the legislation. The PJCIS also recommended that the issuance of the warrants be restricted to crimes against national security, including money laundering, serious narcotics, computer crimes, weapons and crimes of criminal association, and crimes. against humanity. However, the finalized bill does not include amendments that reduce the scope of crimes in this way.

The government has committed to reviewing the PJCIS recommendations through a comprehensive reform of the intelligence surveillance apparatus.

Related: Australian hacker sentenced to 2 years in prison for theft of $ 300K XRP

Shadow deputy cybersecurity minister Tim Wilson described the rejected PJCIS recommendations as a “major constraint” for authorities wielding the new powers, stating:

“While we support the bill […] the safeguards in this bill could go further, particularly in relation to the crimes to which this bill applies. “