News Item: (AUS) Encryption laws could be put to use targeting bikies, ACT police chief says
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by ace
Monday 03 December 2018 - 22:34:08

Bikie gangs are benefiting from current laws that allow miscreants to hide their communications in encrypted messages, the ACT's new chief police officer has warned, welcoming a parliamentary push to improve police access to protected communications.

Newly minted Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson said criminals in Canberra "regularly" use encrypted messaging services to keep their communications secret and that federal laws being debated in parliament would curb the practice.

The Federal Government is trying to use the last sitting week of the year to pass the laws, but Labor is opposed to them in their current form.

The Opposition has indicated it would support interim measures with restrictions on the new powers, including limiting their use to national security agencies.

But Assistant Commissioner Johnson said more routine policing would also benefit from access to encrypted messages.

He said his officers were often in situations where they are unable access communication between criminals, which police efforts to tackle problems like organised crime.

"An ability to access information that you would otherwise have been able to do under existing warrants, but can't as a result of encryption, I think is something that would give police a fair chance at disrupting, prosecuting organised crime," he said.

"And getting on top, and preventing, terrorist acts."

The Australian Federal Police, which provides policing services for the ACT, have made submissions to parliament supporting the provision of the new powers.

But tech industry groups have criticised the legislation, warning it represents a threat to their international reputation.

Assistant Commissioner Johnson said the laws would not provide authorities like ACT Policing with unusual powers, beyond what they already possess when accessing information through more conventional platforms.

"There are arrangements now to seek warrants through the court system to seek access to information, be it through telephone intercepts or other things that exist today," he said.

"That is something that there is an accountability for.

"This doesn't ask for any more than that."

Holidaying bikies 'acting within the law'

The Chief Police Officer also confirmed ACT police are essentially powerless to prevent bikie gang members gathering in the ACT, so long as they are well behaved.

Canberra's lack of anti-consorting laws have been thrown in the spotlight several times in recent years, including when members of the Nomads gang posted photos of themselves on top of Mt Ainslie on social media.

Both the Canberra Liberals and Australian Federal Police Association seized on the photo as evidence anti-consorting laws are needed, but the ACT Government remains opposed to the laws.

In another high-profile case, a wild brawl broke out at the Capital Men's Club in Fyshwick while the Comanchero's held their national run in Canberra in August last year.

Assistant Commissioner Johnson said the bikies can gather as they like, without breaking the law.

"While they're acting within the law, that's something they're quite entitled to do," he said.

"But once their activities step outside the law — that's the place where police have a role.

"And violence such as [the Capital Men's Club brawl] is in no way appropriate, and that's where the police can take some action to prevent violence or to arrest and charge people that are committing violent acts like that."

Assistant Commissioner Johnson would not comment on whether he would like to see anti-consorting laws introduced in the ACT.

"That type of matter is a matter for Government to think about, in terms of a policy position," he said.

"We have a range of laws now that help us deal with organised crime, and we're using them to full effect."

This news item is from White Trash Networks
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