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Law lets Australian police 'disrupt and delete' offensive data online

Australian federal parliament amends surveillance law to ‘frustrate commission of serious offences online’

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 02.09.2021
Law lets Australian police 'disrupt and delete' offensive data online


Australia has amended a law to empower its police to “disrupt and delete” online data if it is found offensive, triggering concern about the privacy of social media users.

In changes hurriedly passed last week to legislation from 1979 and 2004, the new law enables the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to “disrupt data by modifying, adding, copying or deleting data in order to frustrate the commission of serious offences online.”

A statement by the Australian federal parliament said the move will “make minor technical corrections.”

It will also empower the federal police and the commission to “collect intelligence on serious criminal activity by permitting access to the devices and networks used to facilitate criminal activity.”

Under the law, the federal police and the commission can also “take over a person’s online account for the purposes of gathering evidence to further a criminal investigation.”

The bill was introduced last December, and taken up for debate and passage on Aug. 24 and 25.

In early August, a joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security made a series of recommendations to improve oversight and safeguards under the amendments meant to empower the police.

Esra Sezgin, an Australian social media user, told Anadolu Agency: “Governments have been collecting our data for years, decades without much pushback. The amount of online psyop/disinformation campaigns are troubling and need to be addressed without sacrificing privacy.”

​​​​​​​She added: “I don’t think social scores are the solution.”

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