When investigating threats to Australia’s security, the ASIO Act allows us to do certain things which would otherwise be unlawful. Use of these special powers is strictly limited by legislation and is available to us only when authorised by a warrant. Special powers provided for by the ASIO Act can allow the Organisation to enter and search premises, intercept and examine items in the mail, install and monitor surveillance devices, monitor telecommunications, and remotely access computers.
ASIO can, in exceptional circumstances, obtain warrants to question and/or detain people during investigations into terrorism offences. Questioning Warrants and Questioning and Detention Warrants are issued by an issuing authority who must be a current judge appointed by the Attorney-General and who acts in their personal capacity.
Our use of special powers by warrant is approved by the Attorney-General.
The Organisation has procedures in place—based on the Attorney-General’s Guidelines and feedback from the Office of the Inspector-General—to ensure that, wherever possible, we use less intrusive techniques of information collection before relying on our special powers.