Labor warns against move to give Dutton new spying powers

Reports of a plan to give Signals Directorate access to emails and bank records hands minister too much power, says Labor

Peter Dutton’s new super ministry should not be given the power to spy on Australians at home, Labor has warned, after reports that it could be handed a wider espionage role.

The head of the Dutton’s home affairs department and the head of the defence department have reportedly discussed new espionage powers that could see Australian citizens monitored by the country’s cyber spy agency.

Talks have been going on since February to allow Australia’s electronic spy agency – the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) – to access emails, bank records and text messages of citizens without their knowledge, according to the Daily Telegraph.

At the moment, the ASD is not allowed to produce intelligence on Australians. That job falls to the domestic spy agency, Asio, and the Australian federal police, who require a warrant, and who can ask the ASD for technical help. Asio needs a warrant signed by the attorney general, Christian Porter.

 Under the plan, the Dutton and the defense minister, Marise Payne, would have the joint responsibility of formally allowing the ASD to spy on “onshore threats” in Australia without the knowledge of the attorney-general.

“When you are talking about the surveillance of Australians, which occurs right now through the police, through Asio, there’s a whole legal apparatus around that providing safeguards, the requirement of warrants. There’s no indication here about how those safeguards are going to be put in place in relation to ASD.”

 

One thought on “Labor warns against move to give Dutton new spying powers

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