PJCIS asks for Australia’s ‘hacking’ Bill to gain judicial oversight and sunset clauses

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The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has recommended the passage of the so-called “hacking” Bill that will afford three new computer warrants to two Australian law enforcement bodies, providing its 33 other recommendations are met.



a close up of a bottle: According to Peter Dutton, this badge has nothing to do with ACT Policing, even though it is on statements relating to a lack of metadata authorisation.


© (Image: ACT Policing)

According to Peter Dutton, this badge has nothing to do with ACT Policing, even though it is on statements relating to a lack of metadata authorisation.


The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020, if passed, would hand the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) the new warrants for dealing with online crime.

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The first of the warrants is a data disruption one, which according to the Bill’s explanatory memorandum, is intended to be used to prevent “continuation of criminal activity by participants, and be the safest and most expedient option where those participants are in unknown locations or acting under anonymous or false identities”.

The second is a network activity warrant that would allow the AFP and ACIC to collect intelligence from devices that are used, or likely to be used, by those subject to the warrant.

The last warrant is an account takeover warrant that would allow the agencies to take control of an account for the purposes of locking a person out of the account.

The Bill has been criticised for its “wide-ranging” and “coercive” powers by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), human rights lawyers have asked the Bill be re-drafted, and the likes of Twitter have labelled parts of the proposed Bill as “antithetical to democratic law”.

After considering all the submissions made and testimonies provided on the Bill, the PJCIS in its report [PDF] has called for some tweaks, such as amending the Bill to provide additional requirements on the considerations of the issuing authority to ensure the offences are reasonably serious and proportionality is maintained.

“The effect of any changes should be to strengthen the issuing criteria and ensure the powers are being used for the most serious of offending,” it added.

The committee wants the issuing authority for…

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