Australian government snooping continues to grow, A-G figures confirm

Use of telecommunications interception legislation continues to climb, according to the latest annual report of the Attorney-General's Department into the use of interception provisions of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.

Some 334,658 authorisations for disclosure of telecommunications histories were made during 2013-14, the report says, with 324,260 of these made “to enforce a criminal law”. This was a modest rise from the 330,798 authorisations made the previous year, although four more agencies – 77 in total – requested access in the latest reporting period.

The use of warrants declined overall, with 4007 interception warrants issued in 2013-14 as compared with 4232 in the previous year. This information was, the report says, used in 2938 arrests, 4008 prosecutions, and 2210 convictions.

The use of B-Party warrants – which allow the interception of communications services belonging to a person corresponding with a person of interest – was up 16 percent over the previous year while the 999 issued named-person warrants reflected a 12 percent increase over the previous year.

These latest figures come at a transformative time for telecommunications interception, with newly passed legislation now mandating telecommunications providers to retain metadata about calls on their networks for a period of two years.

Critics have repeatedly expressed concern that the legislation will lead to greater government surveillance but the A-G's report goes out of its way to highlight the “significant limitations” maintain on telecommunications surveillance in the name of privacy.

“Interception is subject to significant limitations, oversight and reporting obligations and the annual report is an important part of this accountability framework,” the report says while highlighting the efficacy of telecommunications interception.

“Telecommunications data is often the first source of lead information for further investigations, helping to eliminate potential suspects and to support applications for more privacy intrusive investigative tools,” it explains.

“In many cases, the weight of evidence obtained through telecommunications interception results in defendants entering guilty pleas, thereby eliminating the need for the intercepted information to be introduced into evidence.”

Yet while the A-G report lauds the efficacy of access to telecommunications data, some critics of greater reliance on telecommunications interception have pointed out that tighter laws only push criminals to use alternative forms of communication that are tightly encrypted and cannot be easily intercepted.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

Feeling social? Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn Now!

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags A-G figurestelecommunications interceptionAustralian Governmentgovernment legislationCSO Australia

More about Attorney-GeneralCSOEnex TestLabTwitter

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by David Braue

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place