The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is a statutory body with functions established by the Intelligence Services Act 2001.
A specific function of ASD is to obtain signals intelligence about the capabilities, intentions or activities of people or organisations outside Australia for the purposes of meeting the requirements of the Australian Government. This function is to be performed only in the interests of Australia’s national security, Australia’s foreign relations or Australia’s national economic well-being.
ASD’s functions are to:
- collect foreign signals intelligence
- communicate foreign signals intelligence
- prevent and disrupt offshore cyber-enabled crime
- provide cyber security advice and assistance to Australian governments, businesses and individuals
- support military operations
- protect the specialised tools ASD uses to fulfil its functions
- cooperate with and assist the national security community in the performance of its functions.
The Act requires the minister responsible for ASD to issue written directions to Director-General ASD, which must require the agency to seek authorisation from the minister before undertaking certain activities.
The minister responsible for ASD is also required to make written privacy rules on how ASD is to protect the privacy of Australians.
The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is responsible for overseeing ASD’s operations, including compliance with legislation. If you suspect wrongdoing, you can make a public interest disclosure to the Inspector-General.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security functions, as described under the Intelligence Services Act, are to review the administration and expenditure of the intelligence agencies and review matters related to the intelligence agencies referred by the responsible minister or the Parliament.
There are a range of other Commonwealth Acts that impact on ASD’s operations, including the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and all other legislation regulating Australian Government agencies.