More powers to Australia’s Geospatial Organisation

More powers to Australia’s Geospatial Organisation

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Australia: The power of Australia’s Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation is set to increase with legislative amendments. The changes, reintroduced to parliament after August’s federal election, are to a trio of acts governing ASIO, three other spy agencies, and the Commonwealth’s ”wiretap” act.

The changes will also seek to allow intelligence agencies to share more information and to increase cooperation on investigations into terrorists and other threats to the nation’s security.

The amendment will also enhance the power of Australia’s domestic spy agency as it gives Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) the power to run the wiretaps of more than a dozen domestic law enforcement agencies.

The other two organisations are: the electronic spy agency, the Defence Signals Directorate; and the overseas spy outfit, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

The changes are part of a broad move to update the laws and intelligence-sharing functions of Australia’s national security community, to ensure that vital information can be easily shared. It also comes ahead of the anticipated USD 3 million independent review next year of Australia’s intelligence agencies.

The changes to wiretap laws, contained in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, will add ASIO to a list of law enforcement agencies that are allowed to operate each other’s wiretaps. That means ASIO will now be able to offer its array of wiretapping technology and experience to state police forces and other crime agencies.

The bill may also provide ASIO more discretion in providing intelligence to DSD (Defence Signals Directorate), ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) and DIGO (Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation).

Under the ASIO Act, the organisation is allowed to pass on information only ”for purposes relevant to security and not otherwise”. In reference to ASIO, ”security” means: espionage; sabotage; attacks on Australian defence systems; political or communal violence; foreign interference; and the protection of maritime borders.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald