Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) is deeply concerned about the proposed changes to National Security legislation foreshadowed in the Discussion Paper issued this week by the Attorney-General’s Department for consideration by Federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

These proposed changes, if implemented in their entirety, would appear to amount to a massive expansion of surveillance activity across the entire community, accompanied by a corresponding reduction in accountability for that surveillance activity, and are therefore a potentially significant threat to the civil liberties and privacy of all Australians.

It is of particular concern that with such a wide-ranging and potentially significant legislative reform, the community has been given a mere four weeks in which to digest the implications of the proposed changes and to make submissions to the Joint Committee.

EFA is working with other civil liberties organisations to understand the detailed proposals contained within the discussion paper and we will be releasing our comments on what we regard as the most concerning proposals as we work through the paper. Our primary, though by no means only, concerns at this point are with the proposals relating to data retention and to the extension of surveillance powers into the social media realm.

The Discussion Paper is available here (PDF, 689KB): http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=pjcis/nsl2012/additional/discussion%20paper.pdf

Please also see our recent media appearances on this issue:
ABC News 24
Radio National Drive
The Wire (Community Radio)

Image above Copyright Commonwealth of Australia, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence.


  1. Part B, paragraph 10:

    "provide ASIO officers and human sources with protection from criminal and civil
    liability for certain conduct in the course of authorised intelligence operations."

    If this goes through, we will literally be institutionalizing criminal behaviour within law enforcement.

    Bernard Keane from crikey summed up the very real possibility of what this could lead to:

    "It will enable the ASIO Director-General to authorise any criminal conduct by its agents short of sexual assault or conduct likely to result in death or serious injury or forcing someone else to commit a major crime, to enable agents to more effectively operate undercover; removing the current prohibition on interfering with computers targeted in warrants, allowing ASIO agents to plant material on computers to destroy or alter material; gain access to any other computer, including by force if necessary."

    No-one is above the law in a democracy.

    Law enforcement and government are expected to abide by the same laws as the ones that govern society as a whole, the same laws we are expected to abide by.

    As soon as that line is stepped over we become something else.

    I'm astonished that they even asked for this, they must be living in a complete fantasy world.

    Comment by shocked on 14 July 2012 at 22:51
  2. I understand that with modern technology that there is a need to be extra careful however this seems to be giving too much power to security bodies.

    Comment by Brenda Brett on 30 July 2012 at 22:29
  3. I wonder how much a cheap vpn costs?

    Comment by Nigel Colhoun on 3 August 2012 at 17:12
  4. Unfortunately it looks like this passed through today. The Greens opposed, but Labour and Liberal passed it.

    Comment by Peter Drew on 22 August 2012 at 14:05
  5. "establish an offence for failure to assist in the decryption of communications"

    Does this mean hand over your passwords or else?

    Comment by Daniel Kinsman on 27 August 2012 at 16:26
    • Pretty much.

      Comment by jlawrence on 5 September 2012 at 13:35