Thursday, 25 September 2014
National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014; In Committee
I was waiting for an indication from the opposition. I put on the record my support, and the support of the Australian Greens, for the amendment which Senator Leyonhjelm has explained. It is obviously tackling the issue in a different way to that which the Australian Greens sought to do. Bear in mind the context. With the changes that the government has built into this bill and in negativing the Australian Greens amendment of a short time ago, effectively ASIO will now, on passage of this legislation, be empowered to access third-party computers that have no direct relationship to a particular operation and to cause disruption to that computer. We have tended to craft or phrase the debate in terms of intrusion or surveillance or monitoring of traffic that is passing over a network or through a particular device.
Obviously, with computer equipment, it is quite a bit more technical than that. These warrants will allow ASIO, or those working for ASIO, to modify these computers, to delete files, to install malware, to seek higher levels of user access and to impersonate people—not only on a particular specified device but, as I think we have well and truly established, on any device that it is connected to or is considered to be in a relationship with. The physical equivalent is if ASIO served a warrant to enter a particular house for a legitimate reason that also allowed them to enter any other house in the street or any other house in the country, actually, completely arbitrarily. That is certainly why the Australian Greens would support the amendment that obviously does not tackle the open-endedness—the government and the opposition have combined their numbers to leave that open-endedness on the statute books—but it will at least, as Senator Leyonhjelm has identified, further circumscribe the uses to which these warrants can be put. For that reason, we will be supporting it.