Surveillance is power.

A recent bill passed by the Australian government allows local law enforcement access to people’s devices without a judge’s warrant.

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In particular, the The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 gives the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) the following abilities:

  1. Data Disruption Warrant: Modification or Deletion of Suspected Offender’s Data
  2. Network Activity Warrant: Collect Intelligence on Networks/Devices of Suspected Offenders
  3. Account Takeover Warrant: Take Control of Online Accounts/Social Media of Suspected Offenders

There are a lot of things the police could do with these newly granted warrants. They can hack devices, collect (or even delete) data off of cell phones or computers, and mess around with social media accounts. If you’re accused of a crime in Australia and have evidence that you’re innocent, the police can delete that, too. Or they can plant false evidence, or erase incriminating evidence. The possibility for potential abuses of this bill are endless.

Australian companies are obligated to comply with the bill and assist police in their investigation, or face up to 10 years jail time. The insistence of these abilities on behalf of the AFP and ACIC bring civil liberties and human rights into question. There’s currently no proper safeguards to protect an individual person from being exploited by this system.

It’s unnerving to think of the consequences that this type of power could bring if it falls into the wrong hands. The bill could very easily be exploited and impact the security and privacy of individuals who are innocent of any wrongdoing. It could also be used in changing a guilty individual’s evidence to something more benign, or deleting it altogether.

Although online crime is a complex terrain to navigate, it’s important to consider the far reaching effects that this type of control can have on everyone.

Who’s Got Your Data?

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