Australia’s wiretapping laws.[1] “The magnitude of change to the telecommunications environment suggests that further piecemeal amendments to the existing Act will not be sufficient,” the paper states, in reference to the Telecommunications Interception and Access (TIA) Act of 1979. “Rather, holistic reform that reassesses the current assumptions is needed in order to establish a new foundation for the interception regime that reflects contemporary practice.”

If approved, the revisions would amount to what the Sydney Morning Herald characterized as “the most significant expansion of the Australian intelligence community’s powers since … reforms following the terrorist attacks of 2001.” A readers’ poll that accompanied the article showed that 96 percent of respondents were opposed to any plan that would force telcos to store telephone and Internet data.

Australian powers to spy on cybercrime suspects given green light

But in addition to routing information, e-mail headers include the subject line, which is part of the substance of a communication – on a letter, for example, it would clearly be inside the envelope.

The government also argues that the transactional data for Web surfing is a list of the URLs or Web site addresses that a person visits. For example, it might record the fact that they visited “” at 1:15 in the afternoon, and then skipped over to “” at 1:30.
This claim that URLs are just addressing data breaks down in two different ways:

  • Web addresses are rich and revealing content. The URLs or “addresses” of the Web pages we read are not really addresses, they are the titles of documents that we download from the Internet.

When you are detained as an intoxicated person you must be allowed to contact a responsible person, be kept separately from people detained for the commission of offences, and be provided with food, drink, bedding and blankets.

Police are able to search you and take possession of any belongings found in your possession if you are detained as an intoxicated person.

You must be released and your personal belongings returned as soon as you are no longer intoxicated.


Can police demand identification?

In some situations you are required to provide your name and address and provide identification. If the police lawfully require you to provide photographic identification they also have the power to ask you to remove any face covering to allow the police officer to see your face.

Australian powers to spy suspects given 1

You can lodge a complaint later – see below.

Can they use force to arrest me?

A police officer may use as much force as is necessary to arrest you. Unreasonable force is an assault. After your arrest, a police officer may handcuff you if, for example, you attempt to escape or the police officer thinks that you may escape.

What happens if I resist arrest?

Even if you don’t think that you are guilty of an offence or shouldn’t be arrested it is wise to submit to the arrest.
If you are charged with an offence you will have a chance at court to explain your case. Even if you are innocent, the police may arrest you if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed an offence.

Australian powers to spy suspects givenchy

Another exception to the normal requirement for probable cause in wiretap law is also expanded by the Patriot Act. Years ago, when the law governing telephone wiretaps was written, a distinction was created between two types of surveillance.
The first allows surveillance of the content or meaning of a communication, and the second only allows monitoring of the transactional or addressing information attached to a communication. It is like the difference between reading the address printed on the outside of a letter, and reading the letter inside, or listening to a phone conversation and merely recording the phone numbers dialed and received.

Wiretaps limited to transactional or addressing information are known as “Pen register/trap and trace” searches (for the devices that were used on telephones to collect telephone numbers).

Australian powers to spy suspects givens

But he warned that the web of laws around telecommunications interception in particular was far too complex and confusing. The government has agreed they should be replaced by a single electronic surveillance act.

Richardson calls out those inside the system who he says see the law as a burden for trying to run clandestine and urgent operations.

“One member of the NIC [national intelligence community] saw ‘legal requirements’ as a hindrance to data and information sharing,” he wrote.

“The ends do not always justify the means and the referenced legal requirements are important features designed, amongst other things, to protect individuals’ rights.”

Australian National University intelligence and security specialist Professor John Blaxland says this is an important reminder.

If you think that the police have misused their powers you can make a complaint.

You can complain by:

■ going to the local police station and asking to see the duty officer or Local Area Commander

■ contacting the Commissioner of Police

■ contacting the Ombudsman’s office (toll free) 1800 451 524 or

■ contacting the Law Enforcement Conduct Commissions (LECC) (toll free) 1800 657 079.


LawAccess NSW: Provides free telephone legal information, advice and referrals to other services, including to your nearest Legal Aid NSW office, community legal centres, private lawyers and other organisations that can help.

Call 1300 888 529

Legal Aid NSW Youth Hotline: If you are under 18 and need urgent advice, call the Youth Hotline on 1800 10 18 10.

They must also tell you the

reason for the search. If you do not comply with the search you may be committing an offence.

Drug dogs

The police have dogs which have been trained to detect prohibited drugs.
They often use these dogs at places like gaols, railway stations and in public areas. If a dog indicates that you may have drugs then the police may have a ‘reasonable suspicion’, which allows them to search you.

Search warrants

Police may obtain a search warrant to search your home or other premises.
They may also search any person at those premises. Police may use reasonable force to enter premises if they have a search warrant.

The Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department essentially refused to describe how it was implementing the law; it left numerous substantial questions unanswered, and classified others without justification. In short, not only has the Bush Administration undermined judicial oversight of government spying on citizens by pushing the Patriot Act into law, but it is also undermining another crucial check and balance on surveillance powers: accountability to Congress and the public.

[cite to FOIA page]Non-surveillance provisions

Although this fact sheet focuses on the direct surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act, citizens should be aware that the act also contains a number of other provisions. The Act:

  • Puts CIA back in business of spying on Americans. The Patriot Act gives the Director of Central Intelligence the power to identify domestic intelligence requirements.

More secret searches

For centuries, common law has required that the government can’t go into your property without telling you, and must therefore give you notice before it executes a search. That “knock and announce” principle has long been recognized as a part of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Patriot Act, however, unconstitutionally amends the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to allow the government to conduct searches without notifying the subjects, at least until long after the search has been executed.

This means that the government can enter a house, apartment or office with a search warrant when the occupants are away, search through their property, take photographs, and in some cases even seize property – and not tell them until later.

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