Committee Recommends Three New Warrants Proceed With Safeguards

House of Representatives

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has recommended the Parliament pass three new warrant powers to help law enforcement agencies combat online crime, with amendments.

In its Advisory report on the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 tabled late Thursday, the PJCIS made 34 recommendations in relation to the Bill, including recommendations to improve oversight and accountability of intelligence functions.

The three new powers are:

  • a data disruption warrant which enables the AFP and the ACIC to access data on one or more computers and perform disruption activities for the purpose of frustrating the commission of criminal activity;
  • a network activity warrant to enable the AFP and the ACIC to collect intelligence on criminal networks operating online; and
  • an account takeover warrant to allow AFP and the ACIC to takeover a person’s online account for the purposes of gathering evidence of criminal activity.

The Bill has been introduced in response to growing technological advancement that challenges the ability of our law enforcement and intelligence bodies to combat serious human trafficking, drug crime, child sexual abuse and terrorism.

Chair of the Committee, Senator James Paterson said: “It is no exaggeration to state that, particularly during the COVID pandemic, online crime has reached an all-time high. Evidence from the AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw informed the Committee that the AFP had seen a worrying rise in traffic to the dark web, including 168 per cent more child abuse material and identified during the first quarter of 2020 as opposed to the same period in 2019.”

“The new warrants will give our law enforcement agencies effective powers to enable swift and decisive action against the rising challenge of serious online crime,” Senator Paterson said.

“However the Committee also recommends increased oversight, more prescription in the offences the warrants are able to target and a more robust authorisation process for the warrants to give the community confidence they will only used for their intended purpose,” Senator Paterson said.

/Public Release.