David Irvine, Director-General, ASIO speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Aug 08, 2014. Mr Irvine and Mr Colvin commented on the topics of counter terrorism measures including metadata and data retention.
David Irvine, Director-General, ASIO speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Aug 08, 2014. Mr Irvine and Mr Colvin commented on the topics of counter terrorism measures including metadata and data retention. AAP Image - Lukas Coch

ASIO promises not to use new powers except for terrorism

AUSTRALIA'S intelligence agencies have sought to quell alarm about the Abbott government's planned overhaul of national security laws, contradicting the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this week announced the second and third tranches of reforms including plans to make communications firms hold meta data for up to two years.

The plans sparked wide concerns about what the data would be used for, particularly after Mr Abbott indicated on radio earlier this week it could be used to fight "general crime".

Of noted concern was whether or not the intelligence community would need to get a warrant before obtaining records of Australians' phone and internet usage.

But the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine, on Friday ruled out using data or new surveillance techniques for anything but terrorism investigations.

Mr Irvine said the reforms, due to come before parliament in three weeks, was not "a mass invasion of privacy", and would be targeted only against people who were a threat to national security.

In releasing the scant details of the government's plans earlier this week, Mr Abbott also confirmed that the risk of a domestic terrorism attack had not actually worsened.


Local Partners