MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Access to telecommunications data is essential in order to protect Australian citizens, David Irvine, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) chief said Monday.
“Without it and without our ability to access telecommunications call data and intercept communications ASIO and law enforcement bodies cannot guarantee the level of safety assurance that people expect,” he said.
He went on to add that “in the last eight or nine years we have stopped four mass casualty terrorist attacks occurring in Australia and nipped quite a number of others in the bud at the very early planning stage.”
Irvine suggested introducing a mandatory data retention scheme that would oblige telecommunications providers to store and safeguard their consumers’ data for 2 years.
The ASIO chief pointed out that such measures did not mean the intrusion into Australians’ private life, as “only a very small minority of the Australian community, a few thousand at most, come to ASIO‘s notice and it’s on this group that we seek telecommunications data and only a small proportion of those require the use of more intrusive powers including interception of content.”
These issues have been raised in light of the government’s revision of national security reforms to increase the powers of intelligence agencies. It also follows a worldwide debate on surveillance activities triggered by the disclosures by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden of the United State’s surveillance activities on its own citizens.