The Australian government has passed new legislation on the dark-net. It gives the country's top law enforcement agencies more authority to go after dark web criminals. Many societies opposed to certain parts of the new law have called it "invasive". The new law has sparked a lot of debate among civil rights organizations.
A number of legal organizations have made a similar claim about the Morrison administration. It is said that they decided to reject some of the recommendations made by Australia's Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).
The government has promoted the new surveillance legislation amendment bill. The bill was presented as a set of new ideas aimed at bolstering the state's anti-dark web capabilities.
Karen Andrews, the country's Home Affairs Minister, has defended the measure vehemently. She claimed that the new laws are critical at assisting police. This is due to the ever-changing cyber-criminal threat environment.
The New Laws
In essence, the new legislation will give the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commissioner (ACIC) unprecedented powers to combat cyber-crime. This will be done through three main strategies.
First, Australian law enforcement will be able to gather intelligence on the most prominent criminal groups using network activity orders. This ability will be extended to offenders hiding behind internet anonymity technologies on the dark web.
Second, police will be able to use data disruption warrants to stop illegal acts that are made possible by internet platforms. The same legislative provision will allow law enforcement officers to alter the data of criminal suspects. This is done in order to impede their plans.
Furthermore, the new laws would empower law enforcement to take control of internet accounts. This is done so that they can gather damning evidence. This provision will be used in conjunction with other investigative skills.
The Australian Civil Society
The Law Council of Australia submitted a comment to the PJCIS on the latest bill. The comment stated the need of having key protections in place to ensure that the new powers are not exploited by the police.
Despite acknowledging the sensitivity of situations involving terrorism and child sex abuse, the main group representing Australia's legal profession has asked for "scrutiny" of the new powers.
The organization based its argument on the broad nature of the new requirements. The bill has considerably expanded outside Australia's law enforcement authorities' investigative focus. The Law Council expressed worry about the possible negative consequences for non-suspects. Many people are lawfully utilizing networks that are thought to be used by criminals.
Kieran Pender (a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Center) expressed worry about the “overboard monitoring powers”. She mentioned the damage to the privacy of all Australian citizens - an element that may put journalists and whistle-blowers in risk.
Instead, the lawyer suggested that the invasive powers be limited. This is to guarantee that the bill achieves its legitimate law enforcement goal without intruding on the rights of innocent individuals.
Pender criticized the government for pushing the bill through the parliament without taking into account a slew of expert advice.
Australian authorities have always been known to fight back against the dark-net, this time, delivering the one of the largest blows ever. The new legislation puts many people at risk as the dark-net is not utilized just by criminals.