New phone tap powers planned for Australian intelligence agencies

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that a new intelligence review confirmed in the Australian federal budget is expected to examine strict limits on how agencies set up to protect against foreign threats can operate inside Australia. The review would consider giving Australia’s defence intelligence agency the powers to tap phones inside Australia, and give officers of ASIS powers to engage in ‘paramilitary activities’ abroad. The changes would likely require new civil liberties safeguards.

The review seems to be triggered by concerns within the intelligence community that Cold War-style limits on which agencies can use their resources in Australia are cramping the fight against terrorist and criminal threats.

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