Controversial anti-terrorism laws expected to pass in the Senate as early as this week will give spy agency ASIO the power to monitor the entire internet, the government has confirmed.
It comes as Greens senator Scott Ludlam urged senators to reconsider their vote on the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2014, which is likely to pass the senate either this week or early next week.
“I think this Parliament is being bullied to pass something in the heat of a national security crisis that we will later regret, as we regretted an earlier tranche of legislation that we passed in 2005,” Senator Scott Ludlam told Fairfax Media on Wednesday evening, before debate was due to commence.
The legislation has been labelled as “urgent” by Attorney-General George Brandis.
Australian Lawyers Association president Greg Barns said the new laws would allow ASIO to conduct surveillance on “anyone, any time, anywhere”.
“There are few, if any, limits now,” he said.
“And we don’t have sufficient privacy protections. We have no tort of privacy, meaning we can’t sue ASIO or anyone else if they invade our privacy in a gross sense or if they use [that information] illegally. You have no course of redress.”
So far only the Greens and Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm have said they will oppose the bill. Labor has said they will support it as has the Palmer United Party.
This means the bill will pass even with cross-bench opposition.
The legislation redefines what ASIO can access under a computer warrant.
On Wednesday afternoon, Senator Brandis confirmed that under the legislation, ASIO would be able to use just one warrant to access numerous devices on a network.
The warrant would be issued by the director-general of ASIO or his deputy.
“There is no arbitrary or artificial limit on the number of devices,” Senator Brandis told the senate.
This means that the entire Australian internet could be monitored by just one warrant if ASIO wanted to do so, according to experts and digital rights advocates including the Australian Lawyers Alliance, journalist union the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and Electronic Frontiers Australia.
Senator Brandis argued the warrants should not be restricted, as it was not known what powers ASIO would need in the future.
“How can … Senator Ludlam stand in the Senate today and anticipate what the needs of ASIO will be in relation to warrant-based access [in the future],” he said.
Senator Ludlam said it was important the concerns were addressed.
“They have validated it,” Senator Ludlam said of the fears.
“So any device connected to any other device on the internet in the world could be tapped into [or disrupted] by a simple warrant.”
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