Sydney: The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and other spy agencies will be given more powers under a new proposal as fears grow over threats to national security from Australians fighting with terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.
Attorney General George Brandis confirmed Wednesday that new security laws will be brought before Australian parliament in the coming weeks, Xinhua reported.
The Daily Telegraph reported that wide reaching powers would be granted to ASIO to use cyber espionage to track down threats, while the nation’s foreign spy agencies would be given greater powers to track Australians overseas who posed a threat.
“The government had decided to give effect to important recommendations from the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, in its report into potential reforms to Australia’s national security legislation,” Brandis told the Senate.
“I will be introducing legislation in the next sitting fortnight… (for) a series of recommendations dealing with powers of Australia’s national security agencies.”
Under the plan, ASIO will receive sweeping new powers of digital surveillance and disruption as the ongoing war against looming terror hits the cyber-battlefield.
The nation’s foreign spy agencies, including the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) agencies, will also have their powers to track Australians widened to prevent threats to national security from those returning home from conflicts in the Middle East.
The government is on high alert over the estimated 150 Australians fighting with terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.
Under a rewriting of the national security laws governing spy agencies, the ASIS’s role of gathering foreign intelligence would be broadened to allow agents to team up with its domestic counterpart ASIO to counter potential home grown terrorists currently engaged in other countries.
Sources claimed that such changes would dramatically boost the ability of ASIS to counter threats posed by Australians illegally engaged in jihadi fighting in Iraq and Syria.