Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (containing such champions of civil liberties such as Phillip Ruddock who you may remember from “anti-terrorism” and “boat people” legislation during Howard) has called for submissions and released a discussion paper proposing “potential reforms of national security legislation”.
Such proposals (from Bernard Keane’s discussion here) involve:
- keeping all Australians’ telecommunications and internet data for 2 years;
- wiretapping Twitter, Facebook and other social media;
- allowing ASIO to plant material on people’s computers, and destroy material, and go through a third party’s computer to do so;
- criminalise refusing to cooperate with government decryption attempts, so you could go to gaol for refusing to surrender your password;
- freeing up ASIO agents to break the law if it helps them stay undercover; and
- enabling non-ASIO intelligence agencies to work with ASIO to spy on Australians, particularly overseas.
The Discussion Paper finishes with:
To avoid public misunderstanding as to the nature of these reforms, it is imperative that the PJCIS take into account a wide range of views on the proposals from public stakeholders and government agencies. This will ensure that any measures brought forward to enhance the intelligence gathering capabilities of our intelligence agencies continue to be subject to appropriate checks and balances on these powers.
The Committee will be taking submissions (details can be found via the discussion paper link) and holding public and private hearings until August 6.