In 2012, RT reported access to private data has increased by 20 per cent by Australia’s law enforcement and government agencies – and with no warrant. Australians are 26 times more prone to be placed under (targeted) surveillance than people in other countries.

The use of surveillance devices by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is supposedly regulated by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and the Intelligence Services Act 2001. On December 8, 2004, Federal Parliament passed the Surveillance Devices Bill which significantly widened the circumstances in which Federal Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), other than ASIO, ASIS and DSD, can covertly use data, optical, listening and tracking surveillance devices, and amended it in 2006 to allow for the interception of communications of an innocent third party ("B-Party") known to communicate with a person of interest.

Mass surveillance was on the agenda again in 2014, with the Australian Government proposing a law which would involve communications operators retaining data about all their customers, which law enforcement agencies would be able to access. Meanwhile the former watchdog of Australia's national security laws says he is seriously concerned about plans to make it illegal to travel to certain areas without a valid reason.

Despite its appearances, the executive government has only superficial control over the Australian surveillance system. It is fully integrated with the NSA apparatus. Through technology, the concept of privacy has been reframed to the point that anything a person does outside of the home, or on a computer, is now considered in the public domain.

And in December of 2018, Australia gave law enforcement the ability to demand decrypted versions of messages in the Access and Assistance Bill.

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), formerly known as the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) is responsible for SIGINT (to collect and disseminate foreign signals intelligence) and INFOSEC (to provide information security products and services to the Australian Government and its Defence Force).

The ASD operates at least three receiving stations in XKEYSCORE -the Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin, Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station near Geraldton and HMAS Harman outside Canberra- and many Australian embassies and overseas missions also house small facilities which provide a flow of signals intelligence to ASD.

In August 2013 Fairfax Media reported that the ASD is in a partnership with Singaporean intelligence to tap the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable that runs from Japan, via Singapore, Djibouti, Suez and the Straits of Gibraltar to Northern Germany. The ASD also accesses the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable traffic from the cable's landing in Perth.

Documents of 2009 released by Edward Snowden in 2013 show that the ASD has been eavesdropping on former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former chief military observer of the United Nation Peacekeeping Force in Bosnia, and even bugged the Malaysian cabinet room. The data was shared with the NSA.

The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) is the national foreign intelligence agency of Australia, responsible for overseas intelligence collection, including both counter-intelligence and liaising with the intelligence agencies of other countries.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is the domestic security service of Australia, responsible for the protection of the country and its citizens from espionage, sabotage, acts of foreign interference, politically motivated violence, attacks on the Australian defence system, and terrorism.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 gives special investigative powers to ASIO officers under warrant signed by the Attorney-General and includes interception of telecommunications; examination of postal and delivery articles; use of clandestine surveillance and tracking devices; remote access to computers, including alteration of data to conceal that access; covert entry to and search of premises, including the removal or copying of any record or thing found therein; and conduct of an ordinary or frisk search of a person if they are at or near a premises specified in the warrant.

ASIO officers have the right to arrest and detain, and under the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 passed by the Parliament of Australia, ASIO officers are exempt from prosecution for a wide range of illegal activities in the course of conducting “operations”.

The Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) is responsible for assessing intelligence obtained from or provided by other Australian and foreign intelligence agencies, supporting Defence and Government decision-making and the planning and conduct of Australian Defence Force operations.