Invasive computer warrants used six times in first year
The two Australian law enforcement agencies which last year won the right to take over computers obtained six warrants in the first year of the law’s operation.
Enacted last August, the controversial Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 gave the Australian Federal Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission three new kinds of warrants: the account takeover warrant, the data disruption warrant, and the network activity warrant.
Official reporting shows that two of each warrant type were issued in 2021-2022.
On Wednesday, the Attorney-General tabled the department’s Surveillance Devices Act 2004 annual report for the period 2021-2022.
The report stated that the AFP applied for, and received, two data disruption warrants in 2021-2022; while the ACIC and AFP each applied for and received one network activity warrant.
The account takeover warrant is reported by individual agencies. According to their annual reports, the AFP was issued two such warrants in 2021-2022, while the ACIC did not apply for any.
The Attorney-General report said that the older computer access warrants – which allow law enforcement to search computers for information relating to an offence – are much more common, with 18 such warrants requested in 2021-2022 (down five from 2020-2021).
Four computer access warrants were granted to the ACIC, 12 to the AFP, and two to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.
By far the most popular surveillance warrant remains some kind of surveillance device, whether audio, data, video, tracking, or a combination of capabilities.
A total of 789 surveillance device warrants were issued in 2021-2022, mostly to the AFP which received 695.