Category Archives: Australia

WHICH LAW ENFORCEMENT GROUP HAS BEEN SNOOPING INTO MY ONLINE DATA

This is how much access Australian police already have to your data

The Australian government now wants further powers to access encrypted communications, but does it need them?

Police and intelligence agencies already have significant abilities to access data about our emails, phone calls and text messages if we’re suspected of committing a crime, although it can be difficult to tell exactly what they’re doing with them.

The government argues existing interception capabilities are inadequate to protect national security. According to Attorney-General George Brandis, backdoor access to encrypted communications would redress the “degradation of our intelligence capability” to prevent terrorism.

Many Australians are unaware of current police and intelligence powers when it comes to accessing our data. As the government lobbies for new levels of access, that needs to change.

‘Backdoor’ access

The government’s proposal to compel technology companies to provide access to encrypted messaging services is modelled on laws passed by other members of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance, of which Australia is a member.

Deputy US Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein recently announced the Department of Justice intends to demand interception of encrypted communications. New Zealand already requires technology companies to grant access. In the UK, authorities may force decryption where it is technologically feasible.

As with our allies, it is unclear if Australia’s laws will require so-called “backdoor” vulnerabilities to be built into messaging applications like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

They could compel access via decryption keys or they might enable remote access to devices for interception of communications “at the ends”.

In response, cryptographers argue it is not mathematically possible to access end-to-end encrypted messages via interception without undermining online privacy for everyone.

The current state of telecommunications surveillance

The government already has various powers to access metadata, the contents of digital conversations and computer networks.

The Attorney-General’s Department recently released its annual report on telecommunications surveillance.

Thanks to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act (TIA Act), law enforcement and other agencies can access stored communications with a warrant. This can include “email, SMS or voice messages stored on a carrier’s network”. In other words, the contents of any communication not encoded via encryption.

Agencies may also apply for “preservation notices” to compel telecommunications companies to preserve data.

During the 2015-16 financial year, there were 712 warrants issued for access to stored communications. Data is not available about the types of offences these warrants were used for. It is also not clear how the telecommunications information was used in investigations.

Applications for stored communications warrants (issued)

Agency 2014-2015 2015-2016
ACC 4 2
ACCC 4
AFP 94 80
ASIC 1
CCC (QLD) 3
CCC (WA) 5
DIBP 10 1
NSW CC 3 4
NSW Police 290 345
NT Police 16 11
PIC 7 16
QLD Police 123 132
SA Police 38 19
TAS Police 29 17
VIC Police 40 41
WA Police 38 35
Total 696 712

Source: Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 Annual Report 2015–16

The issue of metadata retention

A controversial 2015 amendment to the TIA Act requires telecommunication service providers to retain metadata for two years.

This allows authorised law enforcement agencies warrantless access to information about digital communications such as the recipient or time sent, but not their content.

However, some agencies that aren’t meant to be able to access metadata are still making requests under different legal regimes, according to the Communications Alliance, and there have already been reported breaches where an Australian Federal Police officer accessed a journalist’s metadata without an appropriate warrant.

The 2015-16 financial year was a grace period for service providers to comply with retention requirements. During this time, there were 332,639 authorisations by criminal law-enforcement agencies.

Authorisations occurred most for drugs or homicide investigations. It’s possible this may indicate police are relying on ready access to metadata rather than pursuing traditional investigatory methods.

Telstra launches Sydney cybersecurity centre Australia

Telstra now has security operations centres live in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra, and is also launching its learning initiative to help businesses educate staff members on cybersecurity.

Telstra’s Sydney SOC

(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Telstra has launched its Sydney-based cybersecurity centre, with the telecommunications provider also announcing a new “secure internet initiative”.

With the latest security operations centre (SOC) officially open for customers from Thursday, Telstra now has centres live in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra ahead of launching more across the globe, Telstra CEO Andy Penn told ZDNet.

“There will be more [centres] in the next year or two,” the chief executive told ZDNet during the Sydney SOC launch on Thursday afternoon.

“The thing to bear in mind, though, is that they’re virtual; this centre is virtually connected to the centre in Melbourne, and every future centre that we’ll have will be virtually connected as well, plus they’ll have 24/7 capabilities.

“So in that sense, these centres once established have the capacity to service thousands of customers and as our business grows — particularly internationally with our submarine cable network where we have about 400,000 kilometres of submarine cable network where we’re doing all the data transmission services for international customers — we’ll build out more centres as that demand requires, but we certainly have plans for a small number of extra centres internationally.”

According to Penn, Telstra’s position as Australia’s largest telecommunications service provider gives it the responsibility and obligation of delivering services that will protect its customers domestically and globally.

“Today, we’re announcing a new initiative that will add significantly to our existing capabilities … it is the creation of a new network of security operations centres,” he said.

“These centres support our global network of more than 500 cybersecurity experts, and will uniquely position Telstra to better monitor, detect, and respond to security incidents for all of our customers. The security operations centres will provide enterprise customers with access to our world-class security teams and increase visibility and insight for managing their business cyber risk.”

Telstra built the security centres to an Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) T4 standard, with all cables colour coded and physically separated according to what level of intelligence is carried across them, and the centre’s entry guarded by a time-sensitive airlock equipped with biometric security including facial recognition, gait recognition, and a retina scanner that can read from up to 10 metres away.

Under the T4 security standard, audio and video cannot be recorded inside the SOCs, and all mobile devices are required to be locked away prior to entering the centre.

The Sydney centre took seven months to build, with Telstra saying it took “an agile approach to both software and facilities”. In this regard, Telstra used open-source project Apache Metron, around which it built managed services applications and capabilities in order to remove the cost of developing commercial software, which it said meant more money spent on analysts.

Telstra’s SOC management platform is run on Microsoft Azure, with the centres also utilising the capabilities of software development company Readify and advanced security analytics technology Cognevo, both of which were acquired by Telstra last year.

“The future of security is machine intelligence coupled with human expertise,” Penn said.

“With the volumes of data we are seeing today driven by technology innovation, it is impossible to see the patterns and trends without machine learning. These new centres and our dynamic security offerings give us exactly this capability.”

Available 24/7, the Sydney and Melbourne centres “have the ability to aggregate data in a central point where it can be analysed for hostile intent”, Penn explained. The two SOCs are identical, with each housing 14 analysts at all times to support thousands of customers.

If one centre has an outage, services can be immediately switched over to the other, Telstra said.

While Penn would not disclose how much the centre is worth, he said it is “a fair bit bigger” than Optus’ AU$7 million centre unveiled last year.

Telstra additionally announced the establishment of a learning and development program to increase knowledge of cybersafety within organisations.

“Cybersecurity is a team sport,” Penn said, adding that Telstra fully supports the federal government’s cybersecurity strategy.

“The security operations centres and the secure internet initiatives reinforce Telstra’s commitment to working with the government and industry to create a cybersecure Australia.”

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan welcomed the arrival of Telstra’s new SOC, saying it demonstrates that as a telco provider, Telstra is “incredibly well placed” for dealing with cybersecurity.

“Cyber risk is there and it’s growing — we’re seeing cyber espionage, we’re seeing cybercrime, and we’re seeing hacktivism,” Tehan said during the SOC launch in Sydney, adding that there needs to be a “whole-of-community approach” to dealing with it.

Tehan and Penn

Tehan said the Australian cybersecurity centre’s unclassified-level stage one is “nearly ready” to be online, with the entire centre aiming to be fully operational next year.

The federal government has been moving towards a greater focus on cybersecurity, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull initially pledging AU$30 million through to 2019-20 in December 2015 as part of the government’s AU$1.1 billion National  Science and Innovation Agenda to establish the Cyber Security Growth Centre.

The government announced in November that it would be launching the AU$4.5 million Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence with the aim of improving Australia’s cybersecurity through education and research, with Turnbull and Tehan receiving cyber defence education at the Australian Signals Directorate.

The government in February also pledged AU$1.9 million to universities delivering specialised cybersecurity training in a bid to combat the skills shortage in cyber-related fields.

During the 2017 Federal Budget, the government further pledged AU$10.7 million over four years to establish the Cyber Security Advisory Office (CSAO) to work with government agencies to manage cyber and digital risks and vulnerabilities to “provide strengthened central governance and assurance for cybersecurity and broader project vulnerability across government”.

Having launched its own managed security services earlier this year, Penn last week told ZDNet during Telstra’s FY17 financial results call that Telstra has “deep” skills in cyber.

“We’ve got deep, deep, deep skills in cyber because of our own need to protect our networks, but also we provide a very significant dynamic service for our enterprise customers, and this is really a significant investment in really building that service for our enterprise customers,” Penn told ZDNet.

The chief executive also told ZDNet that Telstra will likely upgrade its existing SOC in Canberra.

Henry Sapiecha

Telstra launching cybersecurity centres internationally

Telstra is utilising its ‘deep, deep skills in cyber’ by launching security operations centres in Sydney, Melbourne, and across the globe, as well as likely upgrading its existing facility in Canberra.

Telstra will be opening cybersecurity centres internationally following the launch of its security operations centres (SOCs) in Sydney and Melbourne over the next few weeks, CEO Andy Penn has announced.

Speaking during Telstra’s FY17 financial results call, Penn said Australia’s incumbent telecommunications provider is currently looking at locations for international SOCs, but would not disclose the sites.

However, he added that the two new Australian centres will be launching “very soon … in the coming weeks”.

“There’s no doubt that large enterprises and even smaller enterprises today are becoming increasingly concerned by cybersecurity risks that they face,” Penn told ZDNet.

“There’s virtually no technology innovation that’s happening today that isn’t intended to be connected. That means it’s across a network, and what’s critical is those innovations and that technology is protected from a cyber perspective.

“We’ve got deep, deep, deep skills in cyber because of our own need to protect our networks, but also we provide a very significant dynamic service for our enterprise customers, and this is really a significant investment in really building that service for our enterprise customers.”

Penn told ZDNet that Telstra will also likely upgrade its existing SOC in Canberra.

“We have a dynamic product offering which is integrated with some of the best data analytics globally and the best access to data globally, so that’s actually the fundamental offering, and then the security operations themselves actually enable ourselves on behalf of our customers, or our customers, to monitor 24/7 effectively the cyber activity on their networks,” Penn told ZDNet.

“You need the data analytics and you need the artificial intelligence and the machine learning capabilities to process what’s actually happening deeply at the network level, and you need the sensors deep within the network, and that’s the dynamic security offering that is already launched. We’ve already got customers on that who are very pleased with that offering, and then we’re supporting that with the security operations centres.”

Penn said Telstra has the “smartest” network in Australia, with the telco currently also upgrading its fibre-optic network to allow for terabit capacity.

“We have commenced the rollout of our next-gen optical fibre and transmission network; Tasmania was the first state to benefit from this upgrade,” the chief executive said.

“This will increase Telstra’s network capacity to 1 terabit per second, and has already done so on each of Telstra’s two subsea cables running across the Bass Strait. We’re already rolling this out to the rest of the country, and there is future potential to increase the capacity to 100 terabits per second.”

In addition, Penn spruiked the company’s Cat-M1 Internet of Things (IoT) network, built in conjunction with Ericsson and switched on earlier this month on the 4GX network.

“Cat-M1 will give us the platform for the significant growth we expect to see in IoT,” Penn said.

Telstra currently has more than 8,600 mobile towers, 5,000 telephone exchanges, 200,000 switches and routers, 240,000km of optical fibre cable, and 400,000km of submarine cable.

Telstra TV 2

Penn also announced the launch of the Telstra TV 2, saying that Telstra remains “committed to Foxtel” despite its dropping revenue and is in discussions with co-owner News Corp on how best to structure and arrange Foxtel in future.

“We’re about to dial it up again,” Penn said, detailing that the Telstra TV 2 will include all streaming and catch-up TV services along with a linked mobile app, making it “a real Australian first”.

“Access to the best content is critically important to us as demand for media continues to grow. At the same time, the media market is changing with new participants and increased competition,” Telstra added.

Telstra’s media revenue grew by 8.2 percent to AU$935 million thanks to uptake of both the Telstra TV and “Foxtel from Telstra”. Foxtel from Telstra made AU$777 million in revenue, growing by 8.1 percent due to 57,000 additional subscribers, and there are now 827,000 Telstra TV devices in the market.

Underpinning Telstra’s SOCs is its suite of managed security services announced in March and launched in July, Penn said, in addition to the company’s 500 “cybersecurity experts”.

The Telstra TV originally launched in October 2015.

Around AU$200m later, data retention mostly used for chasing drugs, not terror

The Attorney-General’s Department has exposed a report outlining the opening months of Australia’s data retention scheme.

Australia’s telecommunications companies have been left with a funding hole of over AU$70 million to cover the capital costs of Australia’s data retention scheme, according to the Telecommunications Interception And Access Act 1979 Annual Report 2015-16 [PDF], while data authorisations for terrorism ranked below those for illicit drug offences.

www.policesearch.net

Despite handing out AU$128 million in grants last year, the report, released on Monday, states that the capital cost to industry will total AU$198 million by the end of the 2016-17 financial year.

“Information collected from industry through the Data Retention Industry Grants Programme indicates that the estimated capital cost of implementing data retention obligations over the period between 30 October 2014 and 13 April 2017 is AU$198,527,354,” the report said.

“[Costs] relate to the anticipated direct upfront capital costs and not the recurring or indirect costs associated with compliance.”

In 2015, Attorney-General George Brandis said he expected the average ongoing cost for telcos to run their data retention system would be around AU$4 per month.

The report said the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) received 210 applications for funding, of which 10 were withdrawn, and 180 telecommunications providers were found to be eligible for funding. Of that 180, “most” were awarded a grant to cover 80 percent of their costs.

It was also detailed that during the implementation period for the data retention scheme, AGD received 402 data retention implementation plans from 310 providers.

Under Australia’s data retention laws, passed by both major parties in March 2015, telecommunications carriers must store customer call records, location information, IP addresses, billing information, and other data for two years, accessible without a warrant by law-enforcement agencies.

Over the period from October 13, 2015 to June 30, 2016, the report said the offence for which the highest number of authorisations to telco data was made was illicit drug offences, with 57,166. This was followed in ranking by miscellaneous, homicide, robbery, fraud, theft, and abduction.

Terrorism offences ranked below property damage and cybercrime, with 4,454 authorisations made.

As part of the data retention laws, the spirit of the legislation was to restrict access to stored metadata to a list of approved enforcement agencies, with those agencies not on the list theoretically having access removed on October 12, 2015.

Overall, the report said 63 enforcement agencies made 333,980 authorisations for retained data, of which 326,373 related to criminal law.

“In 2015-16, law enforcement agencies made 366 arrests, conducted 485 proceedings, and obtained 195 convictions based on evidence obtained under stored communications warrants,” the report said.

During 2015-16, 3,857 telecommunication interception warrants were issued, with interception data used in 3,019 arrests, 3,726 prosecutions, and 1,812 convictions. Total cost for interception warrants was AU$70.3 million, at an average cost of AU$619,200 per warrant.

Australia Post accounted for 64 authorisations between June 30 and October 12, 2015, compared to none the year before; and the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources made 173 authorisations in 3.5 months compared to 226 the entire financial year prior.

It was also noted that on six occasions, warrants were exercised by people not authorised to; in three instances, the Ombudsman could not determine whether stored communications related to the person named on a warrant; and in one instance, it could not determine who had received stored communications from a carrier.

It was also revealed that during the 2015-16 year, the Western Australia Police had received a pair of journalist warrants, which saw 33 authorisations of data made.

“These authorisations were for the purpose of enforcing the criminal law,” the report said.

In April, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) revealed that it had “mistakenly” accessed a journalist’s call records without a warrant in breach of the data retention legislation.

It was subsequently learned that AGD had advised government departments to skirt metadata laws and rely on coercive powers.

In May, the Commonwealth Ombudsman found the AFP to be handling metadata in a compliant manner, but noted a number of exceptions.

“We identified two instances where a stored communications warrant had been applied for and subsequently issued in respect of multiple persons, which is not provided for under the Act,” the report said.

In response, the AFP said its warrant templates were not clear enough.

www.druglinks.info

Henry Sapiecha

Report states Australians do not trust Telcos keeping their data safe & private

A report from Essential Research has emphasised that Australians do not trust telcos and ISPs storing their data, even though trust is rising for governments, law enforcement, and other businesses.

Australians are losing trust in telecommunications and internet service providers’ (ISPs) ability to store their data safely and securely, with a report from Essential Research highlighting only 4 percent of respondents have “a lot of trust” in the industry.

29 percent of the 1,020 respondents surveyed for the report [PDF] said they have some sort of trust in telcos and ISPs, a 3 percent drop from the previous year’s results.

Security agencies such as the Australian Federal Police (AFP), local police, and ASIO were found to be trusted by 64 percent of respondents, an increase from the 49 percent that said they trusted security agencies to store personal data safely and in a way that would prevent abuse in 2015.

Governments were found to be trusted 3 percent more than they were a year prior, with 43 percent having faith in those elected into office to protect their personal information.

It was revealed last week that Medicare card information was up for sale on the dark web, with the federal government responding swiftly to the claims with a statement that said reports are being taken seriously. The system used to access Medicare card details is now undergoing a review.

However, a remark was made by Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge that downplayed the seriousness of the issue, with Tudge commenting that the only information available was a Medicare card number and the information available was not sufficient to access any personal health record.

The federal government accidentally published the full names, nationalities, locations, arrival dates, and boat arrival information of nearly 10,000 asylum seekers housed both on the Australian mainland and Christmas Island in February 2014.

KPMG said human error and a push to get immigration data up on deadline resulted in the details being published on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website by mistake.

Last month, the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) alleged that two male police officers accessed the state’s criminal records database on a handful of unauthorised occasions.

According to the CCC, a 60-year-old former sergeant undertook checks on the Queensland Police Records and Information Management Exchange (Qprime) for personal purposes. The 31-year-old serving sergeant was accused of accessing Qprime on 10 occasions.

A 43-year-old serving detective senior constable from State Crime Command was similarly charged in March, and another was fined in May for 80 instances of unauthorised Qprime access.

A report from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) in May revealed that only 53 percent of people it surveyed were able to nominate an organisation to report the misuse of their information to.

The OAIC said that when asked, only 47 percent admitted awareness of a Privacy Commissioner — either federal or state level — but a mere 7 percent said they would report misuse of information to a Privacy Commissioner. Rather, 12 percent would prefer to report such acts to the police, and 9 percent would rather directly contact the organisation involved.

The survey found that Australians have awarded the highest level of trust to health service providers, followed by financial institutions, and then both state and federal government departments.

Of the 1,800 Australians surveyed, 16 percent said they would avoid dealing with a government agency because of privacy concerns, while 58 percent would avoid dealing with a private company for the same reasons.

Another question asked by Essential Media was whether the individual surveyed had fallen victim to a handful of cyber-related crimes.

33 percent said they had a computer virus that damaged their computer or data; 22 percent admitted to having their credit card information stolen; 14 percent had been the victim of online fraud; cyber bullying was experienced by 10 percent of respondents; online stalking, invasion of privacy, or high levels of harassment was reported by 9 percent; and 6 percent claim to have had their identity stolen.

50 percent — 510 individuals — said they had not fallen victim to any of the cyber-related crimes.

A computer virus was reported by more males than females, while cyber bullying was experienced by more females than males, with those aged 18 to 34 the most susceptible to be at the receiving end of the anti-social behaviour. Similarly, online stalking was experienced more by females, with those aged 18-34 again the most targeted.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Organisations need a ‘moral imagination’ to build ethical data services that are fair for all punters. That’s where Centrelink said .OOPS.!

Many recent discussions on privacy and data governance have focused on the practical, and on the short term. That’s understandable, given that here in Australia our mandatory data breach notification regime looms large, and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) follows soon after. But balance is a good thing.

I was pleased, therefore, that the Data + Privacy Asia Pacific conference in Sydney on Wednesday kicked off with a look at the ethics of data stewardship. Not the everyday what, where, and how of data operations, but the why of doing any of these data things in the first place.

This framing was deliberate, Australia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, told ZDNet.

“There is no irony in the fact that often the most personal information is the richest in its potential for public data use,” said Pilgrim in his opening remarks. Therein lie the ethical problems.

How do we balance personal risks with the opportunity for public good, or at least the good of the organisation collecting the data? What counts as having a “genuine interest” in collecting the data, as opposed to sucking in as much as possible as soon as possible?

New ways of analysing data, re-identifying supposedly anonymous data, and reaching conclusions are being developed rapidly. Even the biggest players like Google and Facebook would admit they’ve no idea what might be possible even a few years ahead.

So how do we work within the ocean of future possibilities when data can be bought, sold, lost, stolen, or leaked?

“I think you’re exactly right in pointing to this as the main challenge, not just for us in this discussion, but for all of us here today,” said Rob Sherman, deputy chief privacy officer at Facebook. “We don’t know 20 years down the road what technology is going to look like.”

“You have to be willing to iterate. We have to have principles that are established, that reflect our views on the way to do this, independent of technology, and independent of specific use of data.”

Great. But how do you develop principles in the abstract?

According to Dr Simon Longstaff, executive director of The Ethics Centre, a useful tool here is the “veil of ignorance”, a thought experiment proposed in 1971 by American philosopher John Rawls.

Imagine that you’re developing the operating principles for, say, an on-demand transport service.

Now imagine that you know nothing about yourself, your natural abilities, or your position in society. You know nothing about your gender, race, language skills, health … none of these things. The veil of ignorance has descended.

How would you set up the rules for this service when you could be any of the people involved — driver, passenger, shareholder, brown-skinned, pregnant, mentally ill, drunk, whatever? Or even people not directly involved, such as vehicle manufacturers, regulators trying to minimise their overhead, or residents dealing with any environmental effects?

What principles would be fair and reasonable for everyone involved?

“[By doing that] you can start to get a sense of what you would build, that is technology-neutral, and effective in terms of dealing with our interests,” said Longstaff.

Such a “moral imagination”, as Longstaff described it, would go a long way towards addressing one of Startupland’s most obvious problems — that services are imagined by, built by, and built for a narrow demographic that’s mostly male, mostly white, mostly privileged, mostly aged under 30, and mostly besotted with their own “understanding” of how the world works.

Such a moral imagination might have helped create an on-demand transport service very different from Uber.

Remember the real reason for Uber?

“We wanted to get a classy ride. We wanted to be baller in San Francisco. That’s all it was about,” said founder Travis Kalanick in 2013.

Such a moral imagination might have helped the creators of the service which, it is alleged, discouraged poor students from university, rather than suggesting ways to help them follow their dream. They might have imagined how a teenager might feel being told, “Nah, I wouldn’t bother.”

And such a moral imagination might have helped human services minister Alan Tudge navigate his way through the Centrelink robodebt debacle, where shoddy algorithms and processes led to unreasonable demands for money being sent to welfare recipients. He might have imagined what it’d be like on the receiving end.

Things work very differently in Canada.

“Governments want to link data, so it might be to cut off somebody’s benefits, for example, because you’re declaring income which was not [previously] known,” said Michael McEvoy, Deputy Commissioner in the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia.

“What we’re working with government on that is to say that you can do that by machine process, but if you’re doing to disentitle somebody, or in some way be prejudicing that individual, a human being has to look at that before any decision is made.”

While imagining Tudge with a moral imagination may be a stretch of the imagination, it’s not quite as unrealistic to expect a organisation’s board to include these issues under the heading of corporate social responsibility.

Henry Sapiecha

Federal Budget 2017: Gangs, terrorists targeted in $321 million Australian Federal Police shakeup

A MASSIVE $321 million boost to the Australian Federal Police budget will mean 300 extra covert intelligence operators and forensic specialists to help protect Australians from the threat of terrorism.

GANGS and local terrorists will be the target of a beefed-up Australian Federal Police force in a $321 million Turnbull government plan to tackle ­violent crime.

A major drive to recruit 300 specialist police will see AFP ranks bolstered by new tactical response teams, undercover investigators and forensic experts, some of whom will ­support Victoria Police to iden­tify and arrest gang members.

The security package, to be announced today, is part of a Budget spending spree, which will also benefit Victorians with $100 million to help struggling manufacturing businesses adapt after the car industry closure. Treasurer Scott Morrison told the Herald Sun Tuesday’s Budget aimed to deliver fairness, security and opportunity, sharing the benefits of Australia’s economic growth with everyone.

“We know that things are improving globally and we’ve got to make the right choices to secure those better days ahead,” Mr Morrison said.

“We have to keep the economy growing for more and better paying jobs, to guarantee the services that Australians rely on, to put downward pressure on rising costs of living, and to ensure that the government lives within its means.”

The four-year AFP funding boost will pay for 100 intelligence experts, almost 100 forensic specialists and more than 100 tactical response and covert surveillance officers.

The package will fund more 100 intelligence experts and more.

Firearms specialists, bomb response technicians, intelligence analysts, negotiators and covert online investigators will be added to the AFP’s ranks, with several new officers placed on the National Anti-Gangs Taskforce to help Victoria Police.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said violent crime and criminal gangs were “two of the biggest issues facing Victoria” and the government would back the AFP to “crack down” on them.

“Victorians, like all Australians, deserve to feel safe to go about their daily lives without fear,” he said.

Mr Keenan said it was the largest funding boost for the AFP’s domestic policing operations in a decade.

“This will equip the AFP with new capabilities and greater flexibility to respond rapidly to emerging crimes today, and into the future,” he said. “The additional experts will fast-track investigations and lock up criminals sooner, targeting areas of priority including terrorism, criminal gangs, drugs, organised crime, cybercrime, fraud and anti-corruption.”

The AFP had previously raised concerns about its lack of funding, but Mr Keenan said the investment was “the first step in the AFP’s 10-year plan” for its future.

Another key element in the Budget will be the $100 million package to help struggling manufacturing businesses grow and adapt to changing technologies.

It includes $47.5 million over the next two years to pay for a third of the costs of capital upgrades to businesses in Victoria and South Australia that are trying to compete in the wake of the car industry closure.

“We shouldn’t fold our tents and believe Australians can’t compete. We can,” Industry and Innovation Minister ­Arthur Sinodinos said.

Mr Morrison said the Budget aimed to help Australians who had not shared in the ­nation’s strong growth.

“Our economic growth has been very good in a global context. At a personal level, at a household level, at a business-by-business level, things have been and felt a lot tougher.”

The manufacturing package also includes $5 million to help automotive research, particularly by students at ­universities.

Australia’s most successful businesswoman Gina Rinehart says Malcolm Turnbull must learn from Donald Trump to make Australia great again.

Ms Rinehart has urged the Prime Minister to cut spending and waste in Tuesday’s federal Budget, saying it is “frustrating” Australia is losing crucial investment.

“We have to do more to cut out spending. We’ve got to cut out a big slab of the expense of government,” she said.

www.crimefiles.net

www.policesearch.net

www.druglinks.info

Henry Sapiecha

Police illegally accessed journalist’s phone files under new metadata retention regime

The Australian Federal Police illegally obtained a journalist’s phone records under the Turnbull government’s new metadata retention regime, the agency announced on Friday.

The breach took place as part of an investigation into a leak of confidential police material – and the incident will now be investigated by the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin said the police officers investigating the leak did not realise they were required to obtain a warrant to access the journalist’s metadata.

“This was human error. It should not have occurred. The AFP takes it very seriously and we take full responsibility for breaching the Act,” Mr Colvin said.

“There was no ill will or malice or bad intent by the officers involved who breached the Act. But simply it was a mistake.”

The journalist in question had not been informed their data had been accessed, Mr Colvin said, due to sensitivities around the ongoing investigation into the leak.

The breach occurred “earlier this year” and was reported to the Ombudsman on Wednesday.

Under the revised data retention regime, police are required to obtain a warrant from a judge to seek metadata from a journalist.

“The vulnerability is the investigator needs to understand that that’s their requirement,” Mr Colvin said on Friday. “On this occasion, the investigator didn’t.”

The phone records in question were relevant to the investigation, Mr Colvin said, but “what was improper was that the right steps weren’t taken to gain access to it”.

The breach is the first such incident that has come to light under the government’s new metadata retention regime, which requires service providers to store their customers’ data for two years.

Acknowledging the policy was “controversial”, Mr Colvin said Australians should nonetheless have “full confidence” in both the police and the policy.

He conceded the AFP’s internal procedures had not anticipated and prevented the error and therefore those practices would be subject to “significant changes”.

Access to metadata would now be restricted to more senior officers, he said, and the number of officers who can approve access to metadata will be reduced. Training will also be bolstered.

Asked if the unlawfully-obtained phone records would still be relied on to inform the actions of investigators, he acknowledged that once seen it could not be unseen.

“Clearly they can’t unsee it. They’ll need to consider … what weight they put on what they saw,” Mr Colvin said. “But that material was accessed illegally, so it can have no bearing on the conduct of the investigation.”

He stressed the content of the journalist’s phone calls were not accessed, just the call records. But Paul Murphy, chief executive of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said that was not a mitigating factor.

“It’s another demonstration that the AFP do not understand the sensitivities here, the vital importance of protecting journalists’ confidential sources,” he said. “It’s an absolute disgrace.”

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon, who lobbied for extra safeguards for journalists when the laws were formulated, said he was “furious” about the revelation and would seek further amendments to the law.

“This is outrageous. There’s been a flagrant breach of the law here,” he said. “The safeguards have been completely trashed. This should chill the spine of every journalist in this country.”

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Henry Sapiecha

New cybersecurity inquiry launched

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The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit has launched an inquiry into Cybersecurity Compliance as part of its examination of Auditor-General reports. The Committee’s inquiry is based on the 2016-17 Auditor-General Report No. 42 Cybersecurity Follow-up Audit.

Committee Chair, Senator Dean Smith, said that, as Parliament’s joint public administration committee, the JCPAA has an important role in holding Commonwealth agencies to account.

“Cybersecurity is integral to protect Government systems and secure the continued delivery of Government business. Government entities are required to implement mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of cyber intrusions. The Committee is continuing its oversight of entities’ compliance with the mandated strategies with the launch of this Inquiry,” Senator Smith said.

The JCPAA is a central committee of the Parliament and has the power to initiate its own inquiries on the Commonwealth public sector. The Committee examines all reports of the Auditor-General tabled in the Parliament and can inquire into any items, matters or circumstances connected with these reports.

The Committee invites submissions to the inquiry by Thursday 27 April 2017, addressing the terms of reference. Further information about the inquiry can be accessed via the Committee’s website.

Media enquiries:
Chair, Senator Dean Smith, Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
(08) 9481 0349 (Electorate office)
(02) 6277 3707 (Parliament House)

Background:
Committee Secretariat
(02) 6277 4615
jcpaa@aph.gov.au

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website. Click on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner and use the forms to login to My Parliament or to register for a My Parliament account.

Media release issue date: 7 April 2017

SPP

Henry Sapiecha