Australian government cracking down on illegal firearms with intelligence software

The federal government is investing AU$25.4 million over the next three years to expand the intelligence capabilities of the Australian Federal Police's National Forensics Rapid Lab.

The Australian government has announced that it will be investing part of its additional AU$25.4 million funding boost for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) over the next three years to crack down on illegal firearms trafficking, particularly through the international mail system, towards specialised intelligence software tools.

Minister for Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism and Minister for Justice Michael Keenan announced on Wednesday that the federal government will be expanding the capabilities of the AFP's National Forensics Rapid Lab (NFRL) with new intelligence software tools.

He believes the software will enhance the intelligence capabilities of the AFP around international firearms trafficking by enabling the organisation to search, analyse, and map intelligence data to identify previously unknown links between firearms traffickers and their suppliers, customers, and other illegal activities.

Additionally, the federal government said funding will also go towards forensic examination of firearms, firearms parts and accessories, and the establishment of a new team of specialised forensic scientists and criminal intelligence analysts.

"We know that modern technologies such as the dark web are enabling organised criminals to expand their reach globally and exert significant influence over Australia's black market, including drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, and firearms offences." Keenan said.

In June, the AFP together with Australian Crime Commission (ACC) split AU$2.6 million to upgrade their intelligence capabilities.

Specifically, the AFP received AU$1.6 million for a new big data capability system, and the ACC planned to use its AU$1 million for a new system that will enable the secure, real-time transfer of information between surveillance teams in the field during investigation.

Keenan at the time explained that the big data capability will be used to help law-enforcement agencies use the tools to overlay big data information with existing intelligence such as social media or news reporting, to decrypt any hidden criminal plans.

"The sheer volume of associated data from the IS [Islamic State] online onslaught has created a windfall of intelligence, and gives tremendous insight into terrorist organisations and also insight into operational activity from geolocation, to unintentionally leaked plans or photos," he said.

At the end of last year, the Australian government announced it will also invest AU$18.5 million to establish the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability to allow law-enforcement and government agencies to share facial images among themselves.