Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw told senators Thursday morning that additional funds from this year’s budget would allow his law enforcement agency to soon begin using the powers it had in the recently passed “hacking” – received laws.
As outlined in the annual federal budget released on Tuesday evening, the coalition plans to give AFP $142.2 million over four years.
the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 was enshrined late last year, giving AFP the ability to issue three types of warrants.
The first of the warrants is a data disruption warrant that can be used to “prevent participants from continuing criminal activity and to be the safest and most expedient option when those participants are in unknown locations or acting under anonymous or false identities.”
The second is a network activity order, which would allow the AFP and ACIC to gather information from devices used or being used by those subject to the order.
The Final Warrant is a hostile account takeover warrant that would allow authorities to take control of an account in order to lock an individual out of the account.
Kershaw told senators that the warrant to take over an enemy account will be used primarily to protect children in cases where predators refuse to provide their identities.
He added that the funding would hopefully allow AFP to be better able to monitor how criminals are using cryptocurrencies.
“The environment with cryptocurrencies is becoming increasingly complex, so this will help us identify where the money and flows are going [are] at least in the Australian system where we can work with AUSTRAC, Home Affairs, our other partner agencies, the Australian Criminal and Intelligence Commission and the Australian Border Force to hit them where it hurts,” Kershaw said.
The Home Office has consistently pushed for law enforcement agencies like the AFP to be given more powers in recent years. Alongside these new warrants, over the past year the AFP has been given the ability to request or request assistance from communications providers to access encrypted communications.
Last week, AFP also opened a new A$89 million cybercrime centre.
With the increased powers and resources, Kershaw said the AFP has seized an average of A$250 million in criminal assets annually over the past two years. For comparison, AFP previously seized around A$60 million worth of criminal assets a year.
Faced with these new opportunities, AFP is now considering a “stretch target” of seizing A$1 billion a year in criminal assets.
Last night, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) also launched a new task force specifically to protect senior office holders and parliamentarians in the upcoming general election, which is expected to be held in May. The task force’s many responsibilities include monitoring online material targeting these key figures.
“Hidden behind a keyboard to threaten politicians does not ensure anonymity,” AFP said.
“AFP has world-leading technology to identify individuals who break the law by harassing, threatening or threatening to kill politicians.”
The task force, made up of hundreds of investigators, intelligence officials and security specialists, will conduct its operations at a new “incident coordination center.”