Peter Dutton urges 'sensible' consideration of expanded cyber spy powers
- Category: Uncategorised
- Created: Sunday, 16 June 2019 09:21
- Written by Fergus Hunter - Sydney Morning Herald
Empowering the Australian Signals Directorate to conduct "offensive cyber" operations domestically and defend important networks from cyber attacks is still being discussed by national security officials despite controversy surrounding the proposal.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed ASD was opposed to the proposal and wanted to maintain its traditional focus on foreign targets.
On Sunday, Mr Dutton said there needed to be a "sensible discussion about whether or not we've got the ability to deal with threats that we face", pointing to the recent hacks on the Australian National University and major political parties.
Mr Dutton said the agency could currently help target a paedophile network livestreaming sexual abuse from the Philippines, for example, but had "very limited capacity" to do so if the syndicate was Australia-based.
He also said Australia did not have the "sophistication or capacity" to mount a counter-attack if hackers targeted Australian banks.
"I think they are reasonable discussions to have in the 21st century," he said.
Labor's home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said the opposition was open to a discussion but said Mr Dutton needed to make the case for the change and be transparent.
"When it comes to keeping Australians staying safe, Labor is always willing to consider emerging threats and what we need to do to address them. However, what we saw today in the media is a revival of a proposal to involve the Australian Signals Directorate in domestic work," she said.
She said Mr Dutton had to "explain to the Australian people and to the parliament what he is exactly looking to do, what safeguards will be in place, what oversight and what Australians will be subject to in terms of domestic surveillance".
The push to expand ASD's operations was first revealed by News Corp last year, which depicted the proposal as allowing the agency to spy on Australians and cited internal government concern about the idea.
Earlier this month, the Australian Federal Police raided the home of the News Corp journalist who wrote the story, which was based on the leak of sensitive documents.
Mr Dutton has rejected the suggestion that the changes would allow the agency to spy on Australians and said the coverage wasn't accurate.
"We don't support spying on Australians. That was complete nonsense," he said on Sunday.
ASD currently has the ability to conduct hostile operations against overseas targets on top of its role gathering electronic and "signals" intelligence.
A domestic role would notionally see them assist the investigations of the federal police or the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
The agency could also sit in the networks of Australian critical infrastructure, with the permission and cooperation of the operator, to help protect them from cyber threats.
Source : https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/peter-dutton-urges-sensible-consideration-of-expanded-cyber-spy-powers-20190616-p51y5q.html