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Australian spy agency spies on itself

How to spook a spy: Spy on your own kind.
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Written by AAP and  Chris Duckett, APAC Editor on

You wouldn't use an agency that didn't realise it was spying on itself; and spying on its own is exactly what Australia's domestic spy agency did.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) accidentally intercepted calls made by one of its own regional offices.

The interception was a breach of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, which allows ASIO to use listening devices and computer access.

The breach, which was revealed in the agency's annual report, was self-reported by ASIO staff and blamed on a technical glitch.

ASIO deleted the intercepted information, and said processes have been put in place to prevent the error from occurring again.

As knowledge of this incident comes to light, ASIO has recently gained the legislative ability to spy on every device on the internet, and copy, delete, or modify the data held on those computers with just a single warrant, under massive new powers contained in anti-terror Bills that went to parliament last month.

Last week, Australian Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Vivienne Thom warned that the definition of "security" in new legislation is so broad that allowing ASIO powers to access metadata and computers for security reasons can cover more than ever.

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