Category Archives: NATIONAL SECURITY

Australian Government Review of the relisting of five terrorist organisations

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has commenced a review of the relisting of the following five organisations as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code:

  • Al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group affiliated with al-Qa’ida that aims to establish an Islamic state in Somalia based on Islamic law, and to eliminate foreign ‘infidel’ influence;
  • Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which seek to establish a Palestinian Islamist state comprising Gaza, the West Bank and Israel;
  • Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish nationalist movement that calls for autonomy for Kurds within Turkey and the right to maintain a Kurdish ethnic identity;
  • Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organisation that aims to unite Indian administered Kashmir with Pakistan under a radical interpretation of Islamic law; and
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Sunni Islamist organisation committed to the destruction of the state of Israel.

The Government proscribed all five organisations on 4 August 2018.

Under section 102.1A of the Criminal Code, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security may review listings of terrorist organisations and report on the Committee’s findings within the 15 sitting day parliamentary disallowance period.

The Committee is currently accepting submissions to this review. Submissions should be provided no later than Tuesday, 31 August 2018.

Further information on each review can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

Media enquiries:
Chair, Mr Andrew Hastie MP (Canning, WA) on 08 9534 8044 (Electorate office) or (02) 6277 4223 (Parliament House)

For background information:
Committee Secretariat – Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security –
(02) 6277 2360
pjcis@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.

www.crimefiles.net

Henry Sapiecha

Canberra gives ‘decryption’ yet again another crack with draft legislation

The Australian government is still committed to ‘no backdoors’, publishing draft legislation that will force internet companies to assist law enforcement in decrypting messages sent with end-to-end encryption.

The Australian federal government has finally outlined in detail how it plans to access encrypted communications, publishing draft legislation more than a year since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced his intentions to do so.

In a bid to address the “serious challenges posed by current communications technology to law enforcement and national security investigations”, the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 [PDF] is described by the government as demanding “critical assistance” from the communications industry thus enabling law enforcement to effectively investigate serious crimes in this digital era.

The Bill, opened to the public for consultation, introduces measures that the government said will greatly improve the ability of agencies to access intelligible communications content and data.

As outlined in the explanatory document [PDF], three reforms will help achieve such purpose, with the first enhancing the obligations of domestic providers to give “reasonable assistance” to Australia’s key law enforcement and security agencies, extending assistance obligations to offshore providers supplying communications services and devices in Australia.

The Bill will also introduce new computer access warrants for law enforcement that will enable them to “covertly obtain evidence directly from a device”, while also strengthening the ability of law enforcement and security authorities to overtly access data through existing search and seizure warrants.

Turnbull, along with his then Attorney-General George Brandis, announced plans in July last year to introduce the legislation that would force internet companies to assist law enforcement in decrypting messages sent with end-to-end encryption.

Questioning whether the proposed legislation was technically possible, wet asked the prime minister if the laws of mathematics would trump the laws of Australia.

“The laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that,” Turnbull told us. “The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”

During his media rounds, Turnbull made sure he let Australia know that his intention was to protect the nation against terrorism and to protect the community from criminal rings such as those involved in paedophilia, rather than nutting out the technical specs of the laws modelled on the UK’s snoopers’ charter.

With the legislation’s oversight now given to the Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor, his statement on Tuesday focused on protecting Australians with the legislation, saying again that technologies including encryption are increasingly being used by paedophiles, terrorists, and organised criminals to conceal their illicit activities.

“We know that more than 90 percent of data lawfully intercepted by the Australian Federal Police now uses some form of encryption. This has directly impacted around 200 serious criminal and terrorism-related investigations in the last 12 months alone,” he said.

“We must ensure our laws reflect the rapid take-up of secure online communications by those who seek to do us harm. These reforms will allow law enforcement and interception agencies to access specific communications without compromising the security of a network.”

According to Taylor, the measures in the Bill “expressly prevent” the weakening of encryption or the introduction of backdoors.

“I am committed to maintaining the integrity of Australians’ personal information, devices, and communications,” he continued.

“Our first priority is keeping Australians safe and these measures will go a long way to ensure that criminals cannot hide.”

The draft legislation is open for public discussion until September 10, 2018.

PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE

Australia’s semantic sleight of hand on encrypted messaging revealed

Newly-released documents confirm that the Australian government’s commitment to ‘no backdoors’ to weaken encryption algorithms doesn’t preclude backdoors elsewhere in the secure messaging pipeline.

Australian government committed to ‘no backdoors’: Taylor

‘We simply don’t need to weaken encryption in order to get what we need,’ says cyber security minister Angus Taylor, but trust in our civilisation is crumbling.

Thou shalt be secure: RSA says you can’t force private sector to break encryption

RSA’s VP and GM of Global Public Sector Practice Mike Brown believes there’s a better way to thwart terrorism than breaking end-to-end encryption, as recently proposed by the Australian government.

Australia called out as willing to undermine human rights for digital agenda

A report from AccessNow has asked Australia to change its course and lead the way in serving as a champion for human rights instead of against.

www.ozrural.com.au

Henry Sapiecha

16 Aug 2018 8:54 AM AEST – Human Rights Law Centre to speak on Identity-matching Services Bills

The Joint Intelligence and Security Committee will hold a second public hearing in Canberra tomorrow as part of its review of the Identity-matching Services Bill 2018 and the Australian Passports Amendment (Identity-matching Services) Bill 2018.

The Committee will hear from the Human Rights Law Centre, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Department of Home Affairs.

Committee Chair Mr Andrew Hastie MP said that the Committee looks forward to hearing from the Human Rights Law Centre and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

“It is important that the Committee hear from these organisations. The Committee is especially interested in the privacy implication of biometric identity-matching and their evidence will greatly assist the Committee in preparing its report on the Identity-matching Bills before it,” Mr Hastie said.

The Committee intends to report on both bills by mid-September.

Public hearing details: 8.30am to 12.00pm, August, 17 August 2018, Committee Room 1R4, Parliament House, Canberra.

8.30am                 Human Rights Law Centre

9.15am                 Break

9.30am                 Australian Strategic Policy Institute

10.15am               Break

10.40am               Department of Home Affairs

12.00pm               Close

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live

Further information about the Committee’s reviews and the submissions received to date can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

Media enquiries:
Chair, Mr Andrew Hastie MP (Canning, WA) on 08 9534 8044 (Electorate office) or (02) 6277 4223 (Parliament House)

For background information:
Committee Secretariat – Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security – (02) 6277 2360 or email pjcis@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.

www.ozrural.com.au

Henry Sapiecha

Government’s plan to spy on all Australians exposed in leaked letters

It may shortly be far easier for government spies to access your private data. Photo source: Pixabay

We’re constantly being advised to protect our data and information online, but it turns out there may be even a greater threat & cause for concern.

An exclusive report by The Sunday Telegraph reveals our online data may not even be safe from the Australian Government. Australian citizens may soon be subjected to secret digital monitoring by the top cyber spy agency in the country with no warrant rerquired for accessing all your info when they feel like it.

This means everything from text messages to emails and even bank statements could be accessed in secret under the radical new proposed plan. The Sunday Telegraph viewed the secret letters between the heads of Department of Home Affairs and Defence. The letters detail possible new powers for the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

As the current rules stand, intelligence is not to be produced on Australian citizens. Having said that, the Australian Federal Police and domestic spy agency ASIO can investigate people with a warrant and also seek help from the ASD if needed in what are deemed to be extreme cases.

If the proposal is passed, it would be up to Defence Minister Marise Payne and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to allow spying to occur. Furthermore, they could approve cases without Australia’s top law officers being aware of it.

The Sunday Telegraph believes Dutton hasn’t yet presented Payne with any formal proposals for changes to the legislation. If passed though, spies would be given permission to secretly access information relating to an Australian citizens’ financial data, health information and phone records. A change in law would mean it’s also illegal for government agencies and private businesses to hold back any information that could hinder the security measures.

The Sunday Telegraph believes the reason for the data crackdown would be to stop terrorism, child exploitation and other serious crimes being conducted both here in Australia and overseas.

Several times in recent months online data and its safety has made headlines. Earlier this year, Facebook came under fire for breaching privacy data rules. As it stands, anything you share or access online remains there, even if you delete it.

This means any photos, emails, website history, online comments and videos you upload or view are stored away somewhere in cyberspace. Worryingly, any information shared on a social media platform such as Facebook will remain with the company, even if your profile is deleted.

What are your thoughts? Have you concerns that your private information could be secretly accessed by spies and the government? Do you think it’s really to protect Australians, or just another feeble excuse for the government to gain more information about us? Big brother is going too far this time one would think. Write to your MP.

Henry Sapiecha

Five Eyes, Nine Eyes & 14-Eyes Countries and VPNs Important to know when using (or planning to use) a VPN

The content herein is part of an article published in a VPN site where at the end of this short introduction there will be a link to take you to a lot more viewpoints & info. ENJOY.

This article will discuss available VPNs in relation to the 5 Eyes, the 9 Eyes and the 14 Eyes government surveillance alliances.

Encryption is the only way to protect private communications. While there are encrypted messaging systems that can be used for direct correspondence, virtual private networks (VPNs, also based on encryption) are the best tools for hiding internet activity, such as which websites are visited. Again, there are valid reasons to do so: to protect the privacy of religion, sexual orientation and sensitive medical conditions; all of which can be inferred from visited websites.

Background

During the second world war, US and UK intelligence agencies worked closely on code-breaking. After the war, the UK center at Bletchley Park evolved into the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The American service evolved into the National Security Agency (NSA). In 1946, the working relationship between the two countries was formalized in the UKUSA agreement. It worked on signals intelligence (SIGINT); that is, the interception and analysis of adversarial telecommunications.

In order to provide global coverage for communications interception, Australia, New Zealand and Australia joined the UK and the USA – and became known as the Five Eyes.

However, such is the NSA’s global dominance of intelligence gathering, other countries have sought to cooperate in return for specific ‘threat’ information from the NSA. This has led to other SIGINT groupings: the 9 Eyes and the 14 Eyes.

The operation of these intelligence agencies was long kept secret. As global communications have increased – and as perceived threats have grown (first in the Cold War between east and west and more recently in the ‘war on terror’), the 5 Eyes in particular began to secretly use technology to gather everything for later analysis. GCHQ, for example, had a secret project called Mastering the Internet. None of this was publicly known.

In 2013, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked thousands of top secret NSA and GCHQ documents showing, for the first time, the extent to which national governments spy on everybody. It is always done in the name of ‘national security’, and both the relevant agencies and their governments insist on their right to do so.

MORE HERE

Henry Sapiecha

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube up the ante on curbing terrorist propaganda

The companies have furthered their commitment to curb online terrorist content, pumping funds into research and pledging to work with 50 smaller tech players to keep the content away from their platforms.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, comprised of Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube, has made a “multimillion-dollar” commitment it said will support research on terrorist abuse of the internet.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Google’s SVP and general counsel Kent Walker said the new commitment focuses on conducting and sharing research about how terrorists use the internet to influence their audiences so the forum can stay one step ahead.

In a bid to better tackle terrorist content on the companies’ respective platforms, Walker told the United Nations in New York on Wednesday that the forum, which formed earlier this year, has now set a goal of working with 50 smaller tech companies to help them curb online terrorist propaganda.

“On Monday, we hosted dozens of companies for a workshop with our partners under the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate,” he said. “There will be a workshop in Brussels in December and another in Indonesia in the coming months. And we are also working to expand the hash-sharing database to smaller companies.”

The forum also hopes to determine how governments, tech companies, and civil society can fight back against online radicalisation. Walker revealed that the third and final pillar of the consortium’s plan is to work together to find “powerful messages and avenues to reach out to those at greatest risk of radicalisation”.

The group of companies announced they would be joining forces last year at the EU Internet Forum to curb terrorist content, specifically promising at the time to build a shared database of unique digital fingerprints — or hashes — for violent terrorist imagery, or terrorist recruitment videos and images, which have been removed from their services.

On Wednesday, Walker said the companies are putting their best talent and technology against the task of removing terrorist content and are “doing a better job of sharing breakthroughs with each other”, pointing to the forum’s hash-sharing database as being an early success.

“We have to deal with these problems at tremendous scale. The haystacks are unimaginably large and the needles are both very small and constantly changing,” he explained.

“In recent months we have more than doubled the number of videos we’ve removed for violent extremism and have located these videos twice as fast.”

Between August 2015 and June 2017, Twitter suspended more than 935,000 accounts for the promotion of terrorism. According to a company blog post, during the first half of 2017, over 95 percent of the accounts it removed were detected using its in-house technology.

Facebook, Walker said, is also leveraging artificial intelligence to root out “terrorist clusters” by mapping out pages, posts, and profiles with terrorist material before shutting them down.

“There is no magic computer program that will eliminate online terrorist content, but we are committed to working with everyone in this room [during his UN address] as we continue to ramp up our own efforts to stop terrorists’ abuse of our services,” Walker added.

Also addressing the UN in New York on Wednesday was Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who said Australia is keen to work with communications companies to crack encrypted messages used by terrorists, and congratulated Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Google, and YouTube for joining with governments to combat terrorists online.

While Australia supports an open, free, and secure internet, Bishop said encrypted messaging apps used by extremist groups are in the Australian government’s sights.

“Australia is very keen to work constructively with communications service providers to prevent terrorists from using encryption to hide online,” said Bishop, who was expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates following the UN proceedings.

“This is a significant challenge as encryption is vital for the protection of many legitimate activities including national security ecommerce and personal privacy.”

PREVIOUS AND RELATED CONTENT

Google: Here’s how we’re going to crack down on terrorist propaganda

Google responds to criticism that it and other platforms aren’t doing enough to prevent online indoctrination.

Facebook outlines its AI-driven efforts to fight terrorism

After facing criticism from EU leaders following the string of terrorist attacks in the UK, Facebook is stepping up its efforts to curb extremist content online.

The laws of Australia will trump the laws of mathematics: Turnbull

Despite calling the laws of mathematics “commendable”, the prime minister of Australia told ZDNet the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia when it comes to legislating decryption.

Henry Sapiecha

Roundtable discussions on Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories

oz-fed-gov-logo image www.australianmortgageloans.com

The Parliament’s External Territories Committee will host a roundtable discussion tomorrow from 9 am to 12:30 pm on the enduring strategic importance of the Indian Ocean Territories.

Committee Chair, Mr Ben Morton MP, said he is looking forward to holding our first hearing for the inquiry and gathering together departmental officials, subject area experts and academics.

“Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands may be small dots in the Indian Ocean, but the territories’ proximity to Asia and major shipping lines means they remain vital to Australia’s defence, trade and security interests,” Mr Morton said.

The Committee will examine different angles including maritime surveillance, military contingencies and regional cooperation, investment in government infrastructure, and implications for the territories’ residents.

Further information about the inquiry, including the submissions received and the hearing program can be accessed via the Committee’s inquiry website.

Media enquiries:
Please contact the Committee Chair, Mr Ben Morton MP on 08 9354 9633

For background:
Please contact the committee secretariat on (02) 6277 4355 or email jscncet@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.

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Henry Sapiecha

New Trump national security adviser shared classified information with Australia

General Michael Flynn image www.intelagencies.com

US president-elect Donald Trump’s recently-appointed national security adviser was investigated for inappropriately sharing highly-classified intelligence with Australian forces.

Retired US three-star lieutenant general Michael Flynn, a maverick who spent more than 33 years in US Army intelligence, worked alongside Australian forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An outspoken believer in assisting allies on the battleground despite red tape preventing the flow of information, Lt Gen Flynn said the sharing of intelligence with Australian and British forces that left him in hot water was done “with the right permissions”.

“I’m proud of that one,” Lt Gen Flynn told The Washington Post. “Accuse me of sharing intelligence in combat with our closest allies, please.” His unconventional style and strong resume – he was tapped by US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal to be his top intelligence officer and promoted by President Barack Obama as Defence Intelligence Agency director – was obviously attractive to fellow maverick Mr Trump.
Lt Gen Flynn was pushed out of the DIA job after two years in the role and has labelled Mr Obama a “liar”.

His views on the Middle-East are aligned with Mr Trump and both men are prolific users of Twitter.

During the recent presidential campaign Lt Gen Flynn, a registered Democrat, called Mr Trump’s chief opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, “the enemy camp” and joined the call to “lock her up” in jail.

He also raised eyebrows when he sat alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a lavish party in Moscow last year.

Offering insight into his more open, untraditional philosophy of sharing information, in 2010 he co-wrote the report Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.

It concluded the US intelligence community “must open their doors to anyone who is willing to exchange information, including Afghans and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) as well as the US military and its allies”.

Lt Gen Flynn has confidently defended the incident that involved passing sensitive information to Australia and Britain.

“The investigation on me was for sharing intelligence with the Brits and Australians in combat, and I’m proud of that one,” Lt Gen Flynn said. “That was substantiated because actually I did it.

“But I did it with the right permissions when you dig into the investigation.” Lt Gen Flynn said he met with Mr Trump mid-2015 and described the real estate billionaire as a “very serious guy”, “good listener” and possessing similar views.

“I found him to be in line with what I believed,” he told the Washington Post.

Originally published as Trump’s new adviser is seriously scary
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Henry Sapiecha

IBM to set up cyber centre in Canberra

Led by a former federal police assistant commissioner, the new centre is intended to bring together business and government to tackle security issues.

IBM-Logo-in-blue image www.intelagencies.com

IBM has announced that it will create a National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in Canberra, to be headed by Kevin Zuccato, a former Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner and head of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre.

The company said the NCSC would allow access to IBM’s threat-sharing platform used by more than 2,000 businesses around the world, provide emergency response teams for security incidents, and would be partnering with its Australian Security Development Lab on the Gold Coast.

“With the establishment of the IBM National Cyber Security Centre in Canberra, we will provide a destination for government and organisations to proactively collaborate on strategy and policy,” said Kerry Purcell, IBM ANZ managing director. “The NCSC will drive a culture of innovation and openness, essential if we are to tackle this growing issue for every organisation.”

IBM did not specify the timing of the centre’s opening, nor the number of employees it would have.

The new centre will align with the federal government’s cyber strategy, IBM said, and will look to support both government and business in improving information security capabilities.

Announced in April, the AU$240 million Cyber Security Strategy had as its centrepiece the sharing of threat information between business and government, using the existing Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and new portals in capital cities.

As part of the package, the government said it would create two new roles: Minister assisting the prime minister on cyber security, and special adviser on cyber security within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet — the latter of which was filled by former e-safety commissioner Alastair MacGibbon.

In its Defence White Paper, launched in February, the Australian government said it would spend between AU$300 million and AU$400 million over the decade to the 2025-26 financial year on its Cyber Security Capability Improvement program

SPP

Henry Sapiecha

 

ASIO, Crime Commission granted access to photographs of NSW citizens to aid terrorism fight

The release of photographs must abide by any protocol approved by the Privacy Commissioner image www.intelagencies.com

The release of photographs must abide by “any protocol approved by the Privacy Commissioner”. Photo: Andrew Sheargold

Australia’s peak security agency and the NSW Crime Commission have been granted virtually unfettered access to hundreds of thousands of photographs of NSW citizens to bolster their ability to investigate planned and actual terrorism acts.

The NSW government has authorised the release of photographs taken of people who are granted an extensive range of licences and permits to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the state crime commission without a warrant or court order.

They include photographs for licences and permits for firearms, to work in the security, private investigation and debt collection industries and applications to operate tattoo parlours.

But the change also applies to photographs taken for licences for tradespeople, real estate agents, contractors, pawn brokers, second hand dealers, motor dealers and repairers, strata managers and importers and exporters.

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It also allows release of photographs taken for the issuing a Photo Card – a voluntary proof of age card available to NSW residents over the age of 16 who don’t hold a driver’s licence.

The photographs are stored by the state government agency Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) but, until now, RMS has only been permitted to release drivers licence photographs to ASIO and the crime commission.

The extra access was granted by the NSW government on Friday, almost three weeks after the killing of police accountant Curtis Cheng at Parramatta by radicalised teenager Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar.

The regulation says that the photographs “or any photographic image or other matter contained in any database of such photographs” may be released to ASIO or the crime commission for “investigation of a terrorist act, or a threat of a terrorist act”.

The release of photographs must abide by “any protocol approved by the Privacy Commissioner”.

But the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, said there was no need for the change.

Mr Blanks said people expected their personal information only to be used for the purposes which they agree to hand it over to the government.

“With a single stroke of a pen the government says it doesn’t matter you gave you information on that basis, we’re going to make it available on some other basis,” he said.

“The security agencies needing data in order to foil potential attacks can be done quite properly and adequately through the existing warrant system,” he said.

“That gives an independent oversight of the process and makes sure the access process is not abused.”

An RMS spokeswoman said the change was “designed to assist security agencies and law enforcement carry out their investigations” and the request “was not made in relation to any specific incident”.

“This is one of the measures the government has taken to improve security and co-operation between its agencies,” she said.

“Roads and Maritime respects and values the privacy of NSW citizens and will give access solely for the lawful purpose of assisting security agencies and law enforcement with their investigations.

“In addition, this access is not made available for commercial or marketing purposes.”

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Henry Sapiecha