Media statement: Surveillance Legislation Amendment Bill

The growing use of the dark web and other technologies that allow criminals to remain anonymous, is increasingly inhibiting agencies’ ability to protect our community.

Legislation passed today will substantially boost the capacity of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) to identify and disrupt serious criminal activity occurring online, particularly activity by criminals who seek to use the dark web and other platforms to evade law enforcement.

This Bill ensures our agencies have the tools they need to keep pace with technology and do the job we expect of them – to keep Australians safe.

The dark web offers anonymity to perpetrators of serious crimes, such those distributing child exploitation material.

The Bill introduces three powers that will substantially boost the capacity of the AFP and ACIC to fight cyber-enabled serious crime:

  • Network activity warrants will enable the AFP and the ACIC to collect intelligence on the most harmful criminal networks operating online, including on the dark web and when using anonymising technologies.
  • Data disruption warrants will enable the AFP and the ACIC to disrupt serious criminality online – authorising the AFP and the ACIC to modify data belonging to individuals suspected of criminal activity, to frustrate the commission of serious offences such as the distribution of child exploitation material.
  • An account takeover power enabling the AFP and the ACIC to take control of a person’s online account for the purposes of gathering evidence about criminal activity, to be used in conjunction with other investigatory powers. Right now, law enforcement agencies rely on a person consenting to the takeover of their account.

The arrest of more than 290 criminals as part of Operation Ironside earlier this year confirmed the persistent and ever evolving threat of transnational, serious and organised crime – and their reliance on the dark web and anonymising technology to conceal their offending.