AFP management of telecommunication requests

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ACT Policing is committed to ensuring access to mobile device locations during an investigation is conducted appropriately and transparently.

In January 2020, the AFP identified compliance issues, some dating back to 2007. This involved record-keeping, authorisation processes and reporting of telecommunication requests relating to location-based services under Section 180(2) of the Telecommunications (Interceptions and Access) Act 1979 (Cwlth).

The AFP commissioned an independent audit and also self-reported to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Today, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s own-motion investigation report was released and the AFP has accepted all eight recommendations.

Chief Police Officer for the ACT Neil Gaughan said several recommendations related to strengthening and streamlining ACT Policing processes.

“ACT Policing has implemented a number of measures to prevent identified issues from reoccurring,” CPO Gaughan said.

“As police officers we have access to special powers for investigative purposes to ensure the safety of the entire community. We take this responsibility seriously, and accept and apologise for our past non-compliance outlined in the Ombudsman’s report.

“I want the community to be assured that we have changed our approach to requesting and approving access to mobile device locations, which my officers are implementing daily.

“Since January last year, ACT Policing has worked closely with the AFP and the Commonwealth Ombudsman to make a number of improvements to our processes to enhance compliance.

“All location requests on mobile devices are now centralised through the AFP Covert Analysis and Assurance business area, with consideration to urgent requests required by ACT Policing to support our operations and community safety.

“The AFP has updated internal policies and alerted all employees who use these laws for investigation to be aware of their obligations and requirements.

“The AFP will continue to review these policies and practices to ensure ongoing compliance and identify further training requirements.”

Location-Based Services telecommunications requests

ACT Policing can make a telecommunication request to identify a potential location of a mobile device in the past (historic) or in real-time (prospective).

Location requests can only be made for an investigation into serious offences or offences punishable by imprisonment for at least three years. Offences that meet these definitions include, murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking, terrorism, aggravated robbery and firearm offences.

Location requests only provide, if available, a general area such as several streets, or a broad vicinity such as a suburb.

Location requests cannot provide metadata or private communication on a mobile device.

 

NOTE TO MEDIA: Audio from this morning's press conference can be downloaded from https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/EzSaclXC8I

Media enquiries

Police Media — (02) 5126 9070, act-police-media@afp.gov.au