[ISN] ASIO cleared to hack into computers

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Mar 25 1999 - 18:04:27 PST

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    Forwarded From: Nicholas Brawn <nickat_private>
    Friday, March 26, 1999
    ASIO cleared to hack into computers
    Australia's domestic spy agency, ASIO, will be given sweeping powers to
    hack into computers and place tracking devices on people and cars. 
    In the most far-reaching upgrade in a decade to ASIO's powers, the agency
    will also be permitted to collect foreign intelligence in Australia and
    pass the information to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS),
    the foreign spy agency. 
    The Federal Government is acting on the recommendations of a secret report
    by ASIO's former deputy director, Mr Gerard Walsh, which was mistakenly
    sent to public libraries and published on the Internet late last year. 
    His report - copies of which were later recalled by the Attorney-General's
    Department - urged that ASIO be given the power to "hack" a nominated
    computer system to "secure access to that system or evidence of an
    electronic attack on a computer system". 
    The Attorney-General, Mr Williams, told Parliament yesterday the agency
    would be able to access data stored on computers "through other means
    which cannot presently be used". 
    The changes will allow ASIO officers, with ministerial approval, to gain
    access to data stored in computers by "remote access" - commonly referred
    to as hacking. 
    The change appears to give ASIO very broad powers to hack into any
    computer system. 
    An explanatory memorandum issued by the Government about the changes says:
    "The effect is to provide the minister with the power to authorise ASIO to
    access and copy computer data where unauthorised access is otherwise
    prohibited by Commonwealth or State or Territory law." 
    For the first time ASIO will have the powers to install tracking devices
    on vehicles or even people - the devices are small beacons which transmit
    signals to other locations. 
    Mr Williams told Parliament the devices were necessary for the more
    efficient use of ASIO's resources. 
    The Walsh report had strongly urged that ASIO be allowed to use tracking
    devices, saying "the absence of this investigative tool is a privation for
    the Australian Federal Police, the National Crime Authority and ASIO". 
    Other changes will allow ASIO to expand its foreign intelligence gathering
    within Australia by dispensing with the present need for it to obtain a
    special warrant for each case. 
    According to the Government the change will allow ASIO to supplement
    foreign intelligence gathered by other agencies, such as ASIS. 
    ASIO will be able to use information from the Australian Transaction
    Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) to follow money trails. 
    The changes also mean ASIO will be permitted to carry out security
    assessments during the Olympics. 
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