Australia's intelligence community dismisses concerns about proposed data-gathering powers

Australia’s national intelligence agencies have dismissed concerns surrounding laws currently before Parliament that would provide them with expanded data-gathering powers in circumstances where an Australian person’s safety is in imminent risk.

The Bill in question, if passed, would enable national intelligence agencies to undertake activities to produce intelligence where there is, or is likely to be, an imminent risk to the safety of an Australian person, such as from terrorist attacks or kidnappings.

It would also allow these agencies to seek ministerial authorisation to produce intelligence on Australians involved with a listed terrorist organisation rather than having to obtain multiple, concurrent authorisations to produce intelligence on individual Australian persons who are suspected of being involved with a listed terrorist organisation.

Opposition of the Bill has primarily come from the Law Council of Australia (LCA), which told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) it was unsure whether the expanded powers would be proportionate to their operational objectives.

In a submission to the PJCIS, which is responsible for scrutinising Australia’s intelligence powers, the LCA said there are no safeguards to prevent agency heads from using its intelligence-gathering powers on an Australian in situations where they are not in imminent

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