Discussion paper

With the Australian government considering further expanding the powers and scope of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), this paper reveals important limitations that significantly weaken Australia’s ability to oversee intelligence agencies—including the inability to review any intelligence operations, past, current or planned – in order better to protect the human rights and privacy of Australian citizens.

Key findings:

  • While all countries in the Five Eyes community have parliamentary committees with oversight of intelligence agencies Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has key limitations.
  • Expanded accountability and oversight measures should be considered for Australia’s intelligence agencies – both general measures, like a National Integrity Commission to investigate corrupt conduct, and specific ones focused on the intelligence community.
  • Protections on the civil liberties, human rights and privacy of individual citizens have not kept pace with the remarkable increase in the data collection, data interrogation and data cross referencing  capabilities of Australia’s security agencies. In a democracy such as Australia, this is the responsibility of the national Parliament.
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