New government bill to boost ASIO’s digital spying power

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175219-683b16e0-f9c7-11e3-a06e-793f22b94a46Iraqi Turkmen pose with their weapons as they ready to fight against militants. Picture: AFP

The federal government will grant sweeping new powers of digital surveillance to ASIO and the nation’s other spy agencies with Cabinet believed to have signed off on a raft of new laws to combat terrorism threats.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that with heightened security fears over the estimated 150 Australians now fighting on the front line with terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, the government will bring a bill to parliament within weeks that would give ASIO the ability to tighten the national security net on potential jihadists.

The proposed new powers would give the intelligence agencies greater ability to track computer and digital traffic between suspects and their associates, particularly via the so-called “dark net”.

Intelligence sources said the new laws, while in the process of being drafted before the Iraq crisis erupted, would have “direct relevance” to monitoring those who had joined terrorist-linked groups involved in the fighting inside Iraq and Syria and who may seek to return to Australia.

181030-9b6f00d2-f9ed-11e3-85eb-f305a31fe088Members of the ISIS extremist group. Picture: Supplied to

The revelations come amid reports convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf is among a handful of Australian jihadists believed to have carried out battlefield executions in Iraq.

A senior government source confirmed that Cabinet had passed recommendations several weeks ago, following meetings of the National Security Committee, for sweeping reforms to the 35-year-old ASIO Act and that legislation was now in the process of being drafted to be introduced to parliament in July.

It is believed Cabinet, on the strong urging of Attorney-General George Brandis, agreed to adopt almost all of the 41 recommendations handed down last year in a landmark bipartisan report by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.


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