Back to top

Foreign Intelligence

What is foreign intelligence collection?

Foreign intelligence relates to the capabilities, intentions or activities of people and organisations offshore. It can relate to threats against Australia’s security, but extends into broader political, economic, and diplomatic matters. Australia’s dedicated foreign intelligence collection agencies are the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation (AGO).

ASIO collects foreign intelligence in Australia under warrant authorised by the Attorney-General, and incidentally through ‘human sources’. ASIO was given the responsibility for foreign intelligence collection under warrant as a result of the 1986 Royal Commission on Australia’s Security and Intelligence Agencies because ‘ASIO is the only service which has been given special statutory powers to collect intelligence within Australia, with the warrant of the Attorney-General, in ways which, without such a warrant, would involve a breach of Australian law.’

What ASIO does to collect foreign intelligence

The details of our foreign intelligence collection activities are highly sensitive, so we do not discuss them publicly. We provide niche foreign intelligence collection services to partners, in line with Australia’s National Intelligence Priorities.