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About the Australian Intelligence Agencies
AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION (ASIO)
ASIO's main role is to gather information and produce intelligence that will enable it to warn the Government about activities that might endanger Australia's national security.
ASIO's functions are set out in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO Act). ASIO (the Organisation) is also bound by Guidelines, which include requirements for the collection and handling of personal information. The Guidelines also set out principles that govern ASIO's work; provide guidance on when information obtained during an investigation is relevant to security and when ASIO can communicate certain other information; and incorporate the current definition of politically motivated violence.
During the reporting period, the Attorney-General was responsible for ASIO until 10 May 2018 when responsibility for the Organisation was transferred to the Minister for Home Affairs. The Attorney-General continues to exercise certain powers and functions under the ASIO Act, including the power to authorise warrants and special intelligence operations.
AUSTRALIAN SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (ASIS)
The primary function of ASIS is to obtain and communicate intelligence not readily available by other means, about the capabilities, intentions and activities of individuals or organisations outside Australia. Further functions set out in the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (ISA) include communicating secret intelligence in accordance with government requirements, conducting counter-intelligence activities and liaising with foreign intelligence or security services.
Under the ISA, ASIS's activities are regulated by a series of ministerial directions, ministerial authorisations and Privacy Rules. The responsible Minister for ASIS is the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
OFFICE OF NATIONAL ASSESSMENTS (ONA)
ONA is established by the Office of National Assessments Act 1977 (ONA Act) and provides "all source" assessments on international political, strategic and economic developments to the Prime Minister and the Government. ONA uses information collected by other intelligence and government agencies, diplomatic reporting and open sources, including the media, to support its analysis.
Under its Act, ONA is responsible for coordinating and reviewing Australia's foreign intelligence activities and issues of common interest in Australia's foreign intelligence community, and the adequacy of resourcing provided to Australia's foreign intelligence effort.
The responsible Minister for ONA is the Prime Minister.
DEFENCE INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES
During the reporting period, three of the six intelligence agencies were within the Department of Defence (Defence): the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO), and the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). The functions of ASD and AGO are set out in the ISA and their activities are regulated by a series of ministerial directions, ministerial authorisations and Privacy Rules.
The responsible Minister for the Defence agencies is the Minister for Defence.
DEFENCE INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION (DIO)
DIO is Defence's all source intelligence assessment agency. Its role is to provide independent intelligence assessment, advice and services in support of: the planning and conduct of Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations; Defence strategic policy and wider government planning and decision making on defence and national security issues; and the development and sustainment of Defence capability.
AUSTRALIAN GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION (AGO)
AGO is Australia's national geospatial intelligence agency. AGO's geospatial intelligence, derived from the fusion of analysis of imagery and geospatial data, supports Australian Government decision making and assists with the planning and conduct of ADF operations. AGO also gives direct assistance to Commonwealth and State bodies responding to security threats and natural disasters.
AUSTRALIAN SIGNALS DIRECTORATE (ASD)
ASD is Australia's national authority on signals intelligence and information security. ASD collects foreign signals intelligence, and reports on this intelligence are provided to key policy makers and select government agencies with a clear and established need to know.
The Act that establishes ASD as a statutory agency, the Intelligence Services Amendment (Establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate) Act 2018, was assented to on 11 April 2018 and commenced on 1 July 2018.