Look at the pretty lights over there… while we secretly install legislation over here

Published Dec 15, 2020 by Ncrypt

The festive season is being used to hide new surveillance laws in plain sight

Well, Christmas is almost upon us and Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton is at it again. 

You might recall that less than three weeks before Christmas in 2018, controversial Anti-encryption legislation was whisked through parliament at near-record pace. This time, Mr Dutton’s pre-Christmas Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 has drawn criticism from, among others, University of Melbourne technology researcher Suelette Dreyfus. Dr Dreyfus observed that “A proposal to reduce our digital privacy demands proper scrutiny; four sitting days of parliament before the summer holidays is not that.” Agreed!

So, while agreeing that wrongdoers must be stopped, let’s summarise the three key powers to be gifted to the AFCP and ACIC that could affect the privacy of any citizens of Australia, a country without a constitutional or federal right to privacy.

The use of “network activity warrants” to “access networks being used by criminal gangs, whose members are suspected of being involved in serious online offences

Officers can use a “data disruption warrant” to “add, copy, delete or alter data to allow access to and disruption of relevant data in the course of an investigation”

“Account takeover power”, will allow the commandeering of someone’s online account without their knowledge or consent in order to “uncover identities of individuals operating online and identify potential victims”

Mr Dutton does however concede that that “nature and extent of the suspected criminal activity must justify the account takeover.” Hopefully, that’s the case!

We know the game but does anyone know the endgame?

Law Council President, Pauline Wright suggested that there’s a “need to strike a balance between community safety and protecting individual freedoms.” With ASIO’s detention powers, which far exceed those of the US, being extended from September 7, through to March 2021 that balance should be accompanied by transparency. Where are we heading with all of this?

Finally, “overreach” and “troubling” are not words we’re used to thinking during the festive season but this is how some many decorated legal minds are characterising legislature’s latest yuletide surprise. We all understand that pursuing criminals is a year-round endeavour but last minute legislation is like last minute shopping – it feels rushed, is often poorly received and sometimes, does more harm than good. 

If you value your privacy and your digital future, check out more on ncryptcellular.com.au and find out how to take care of what is rightfully yours. 


Posted in: Security