Aussie spooks are going to allocate their limited resources to spying on Wikileaks.
Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, has decided to broaden the work of the internal Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to work better with Australia’s two overseas spy agencies, the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Defence Signals Directorate.
Under the rule changes, the ASIO will be able to engage in industrial and economic espionage as well as spy on groups such as WikiLeaks.
The domestic spy outfit has a limited amount to do. There is not much subversion in Godzone and an awful lot of desert. If the dingos ever try an uprising then the ASIO will be there with gumboots on.
The move into industrial spying, as well as keeping closer tabs on Wikileaks, will give the Agency a lot more work.
It will widen ASIO’s ability to work with and on behalf of the overseas agencies in collecting what is known as ”foreign intelligence”. So instead of collecting and clipping the local papers and Googling the words “australia+subversion” the ASIO will be allowed to splash out on a copy of the Wall Street Journal and look at a few overseas sites.
Data collection can only be made when approved by the Attorney-General.
His approval is dependent upon the matter being in ”defence of the Commonwealth or the conduct of the Commonwealth’s international affairs”.
Legal experts and the Greens have expressed concerns that the changes are not needed and fundamentally change the way Australia’s main domestic spy outfit operates.
The Greens spokesman on national security, Senator Scott Ludlam, told the Herald it was a good example of a bill that needs genuine scrutiny. As such, it is almost certian to pass through the legal process on the nod.
By changing the meaning of ”foreign” in the ASIO Act from ”a foreign power” to ”people, organisations and governments outside Australia”, ASIO will be able to monitor a whole new range of people.
This means it can look closer at Wikileaks, which somewhat embarrassed the Australian government because it was run by one of its citizens.
It also means that it can snoop on technology companies which have set up shop in Australia.
The ASIO needs a few gadgets. Its Q department has not come up with anything since it invented the automatic ram castrator and the gumboot which kept your feet smelling of cheap aftershave.