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Jihadist fears spark new spook powers

Syrian conflict drives push to bolster ASIO

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Australia's federal government is reportedly about to use Australians travelling to fight with jihadists in Syria as the basis for giving new local powers to ASIO.

The Daily Telegraph has been briefed by cites “intelligence sources” as saying that laws soon to go to parliament will give the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation expanded data-gathering powers, as well as the right to “disrupt” networks used by people believed to be jihadists.

The report says the new powers “would give the intelligence agencies greater ability to track computer and digital traffic between suspects and their associates, particularly via the so-called 'dark net'”.

Changes to ASIO's governing legislation are expected in July, more than a year after the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security produced 41 recommendations for revised laws.

According to the Telegraph, ASIO would get the right to access “third party” machines to help them zoom in on a target computer. This, for example, would let them try to use something like a TOR node to capture traffic from a person of interest.

“ASIO would also be given the ability to spread its intelligence gathering to an entire network that hosted a target computer, and be given authority to shut down or “disrupt” an individual’s computer in extreme cases of national security risk,” the report states.

Australia's opposition has criticised the government for not legislating the new powers sooner. ®

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