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MPs call for tighter controls on combating online crime

2 min read
MPs call for tighter controls on combating online crime

Members of the Parliament have become concerned over the Australian Government’s proposed hacking powers that will help combat online crime. As such, they have declared the need to establish tighter controls on such power. 

The proposed powers allow the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and federal police to conduct data disruption, intelligence gathering and account takeovers using three new warrants.  

This will allow these organisations to have a greater reach when combating online crime. 

Because of the concerning nature of these powers, a cross-party parliamentary intelligence committee looked into its legislation and have called for greater oversight of the proposed powers. 

Committee chair James Paterson said that while the committee supports the additional safeguards as it ensures that the proposed powers are only to be used for their intended purposes, they recommended several requirements for the powers to be utilised. 

Among the committee’s 34 recommendations is a requirement for a Supreme or Federal Court judge to sign off the warrants, though time-sensitive account takeovers are an exception to this requirement. 

The committee also wants the powers to be reserved for more egregious offences such as child exploitation, human trafficking, money laundering, cybercrime and serious drug and weapons crime. 

The Australian Government’s proposed powers would be reviewed by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor after three years. It will also be reviewed by the security committee after four years. A five-year sunset clause will also apply. 

The committee also stated that privacy, financial and journalistic consequences towards the hacking powers would be part of the issues that will require consideration. 

Groups including the Communications Alliance were pleased about Parliament’s push for greater oversight. 

“Such sweeping proposed new powers for security agencies must come with appropriate checks, balances and protections,” Alliance Chief Executive John Stanton said. 

The Human Rights Law Centre urged the Australian Government to heed the bipartisan recommendations for greater scrutiny. 

“The extraordinary new powers being sought in this bill would impact journalists and whistleblowers and go way beyond what is necessary and proportionate in a democracy,” Legal Director Daniel Webb said. 



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