Au Political news: ALP to Hand “More tools to Spy,” Says Plibersek

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By Athena Yenko | March 31, 2014 12:38 PM EST

On Sunday, Labor's Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek, sayid ALP shall give spies more tools to safeguard domestic affairs from the Syrian-related conflicts, The Guardian reports.

During an interview with Sky News, Ms Plibersek insinuated that she has plans of bringing back the abandoned proposal from Gillard's government. The proposal involves allowing online channels and social media sites to retrieve and store user's data into their system for at least two years.  

The proposal was spearheaded by Asio which upholds that users' stored data, metadata, are significant lead to future investigations to be conducted by law enforcement agencies.

Ms Plibersek hinted that intelligence agencies shall have more access to "spy tools" given the imminent threat from Australians who have allegedly joined Syrian terrorist groups.

"There continue to be threats. Those threats may increase. I want to give (intelligence) agencies the maximum ability to do their job well, within the bounds that people would expect," she said.

Metadata, according to Ms Plibersek, had been important leads in halting terrorists' activities in the country.

"We have disrupted some very serious terrorist plots in Australia. We've done it because we've got a strong intelligence community here. They do a good job."

For Ms Plibersek, keeping metadata does not constitute violation of privacy because it is not the content of correspondence that will be kept but merely the means of correspondence.

"People describe it as keeping the haystack so you can go back and look for the needle afterwards," she explained.

Ms Plibersek respects the citizens' right to privacy, but said the citizens should understand that the government needs the easiest way possible to track threats against national security.  

Asio, for its part, explained that metadata are relevant because those people posing threat to the national security will surely communicate their intentions through Internet channels.

 "Telecommunications interception of content is a key tool in preventing harm because people engaged in activities of security concern must communicate to progress their intentions," as written in Asio's proposal.

"Access to telecommunications content provides essential details of activities of security concern and enables Asio to provide advice and take action to protect Australia. In terms of data retention periods required for Asio to effectively discharge its functions, at least two years is required in some cases, whether by carriers, carriage service providers, or ancillary service providers. Due to the nature of activity by clandestine foreign actors, retention for longer than two years would be ideal," Asio penned.

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