Govt invests in big data, surveillance systems for AFP, ACC


news The Coalition Government has announced it is to invest $2.6 million in a big data and surveillance systems for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).

Michael Keenan, Minister for Justice
 and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism, made the announcement yesterday at the National Policing Summit in Sydney.

Breaking down the details of the investment, Keenan said in a statement that the AFP would receive $1.6 million in new “big data capability”, and the ACC would receive $1 million for technology to enable the “real-time, secure transfer of intelligence” between surveillance teams in the field during investigations.

The funding for the measures will be provided through the Proceeds of Crime Account, which holds money confiscated from criminals and returns it to Australia’s crime fighting and security agencies.

“Australia’s ever-changing national security landscape demands our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the best technological capabilities to keep our nation safe, he said.

Big data – analysing extremely large datasets to identify trends or patterns – can be used in a law enforcement context to reveal threats and criminal schemes hidden within data-rich environments such as social media.

Unencrypted social media provides a vast data set that can provide in-depth intelligence on terrorist groups from their members.

“The sheer volume of associated data from the IS online onslaught has created a windfall of intelligence, and gives tremendous insight into terrorist organisations and also insight into operational activity from geo-location, to unintentionally leaked plans or photos,” Keenan said.

Explaining that it is already being used by the FBI, he added that big data is “vital in today’s threat environment, where terrorists exploit the online environment to radicalise individuals, direct attacks and detail movements”.

Physical and technical surveillance used by the ACC to covertly identify, and monitor Australia’s “highest-risk” criminals is “vital”, said Keenan.

The Coalition will also fund a new real-time capability to enhance “safety, situational awareness and the timeliness and accuracy of decisions and actions in the field”, he said.

Further the investment is aimed to boost collaboration between Australia’s law enforcement agencies during surveillance operations.

In the face of “evolving” national security challenges, Australia must keep its legislation and capabilities under constant review to meet “emerging challenges”, Keenan said, adding:

“We cannot eliminate entirely the risk of terrorism any more than we can eliminate the risk of any serious crime. But we can mitigate it – and this is another weapon in our intelligence arsenal to keep Australians safe.”