The article examines the call for increased police powers to combat criminal cyber-activity and the need to protect civil liberties.



Policing agencies are under increasing pressure to keep up with the unprecedented volume and diversity of data-enabled criminal activity. In Australia, the push to respond more effectively has led to calls to provide policing and intelligence agencies with greater powers. In this article, Teagan Westendorf makes the following points:

  • Police powers should not be increased without due process and debate. 
  • The recent success of Operation Ironside has prompted questions about whether policing and intelligence agencies need greater powers to police the Internet. 
  • Four new bills seeking to increase AFP powers have been put to parliament since 2018. 
  • Three are still before the parliament. 
  • One bill passed—TOLA—making it mandatory for industry to decrypt and hand over encrypted data. 
  • A rigorous debate is necessary to ensure civil liberties are protected before the remaining three bills are put to the vote.