Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Australia spies on journalists

When the Australian government passed a series of new spy laws over the last few years, they pinky-promised that they wouldn't use them to spy on journalists and subvert freedom of the press. They lied:

The anti-encryption laws passed by the federal parliament last year have been used to bypass journalist protections in other national security laws, a cybersecurity researcher has said.


One part of the law updated the powers law enforcement have in executing a warrant. Added into the Crimes Act was the power for agencies to “add, copy, delete or alter” data on computers as part of the execution of warrants.

It was this new power the Australian federal police relied on, in the now-infamous photos of AFP officers clicking through and reviewing files for hours on end at the ABC headquarters.

The Department of Home Affairs admitted to using the new power in a submission to the review, stating the AFP relied on the power in raiding the ABC and the Canberra home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst in June.

I guess journalists having their information protected and requiring a special warrant under data retention laws means nothing if the government can just steal the information directly and identify their sources from their notes. Its just another step along Australia's road to tyranny - and it seems to be going along that road quite fast.