Australian law enforcement and government agencies have sharply increased their access without warrant to vast quantities of private telephone and Internet data, according to a report.
Government agencies accessed private telecommunications data and internet logs over 300,000 times during criminal and revenue investigations in 2011-12, a 20 per cent increase on the level of surveillance activity in the year before.
Figures from the federal Attorney-General's Department showed that on average, these agencies obtained private data from telecommunications and internet service providers 5800 times every week, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
According to the paper, the data available to government agencies under federal law includes phone and internet account information, outwards and inwards call details, phone and internet access location data, and details of Internet Protocol addresses visited.
The revelations have prompted new calls for tighter controls on surveillance powers, the paper said.
'This is the personal data of hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of Australians, and it seems that just about anyone in government can get it," the paper quoted Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam, as saying.
He said the increase in access authorisations demonstrated the current data access regime was "out of control" and amounted to the framework for a "surveillance state". (ANI)