The Australian Federal Police (AFP) plans to introduce deep packet inspection (DPI) technology, as used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect emails and other information transmitted by computer.
The AFP plans to trial the DPI technology in February 2014, ahead of a full deployment in April, according to the Guardian.
DPI enables advanced network management, user service and security functions, as well as internet data mining, eavesdropping and internet censorship.
The technology has been used by the NSA for surveillance because of its ability to capture data in real time at 10Gbps.
According to tender documents, the AFP also requires the system to "extract and store metadata" or information related to communications such as time, place, sender, recipient and email addresses.
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However, the AFP claims the DPI technology is to be used as a “system tool” within the organisation and will not be connected to any external networks or used to collect Australian phone data.
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said he was confident that national agencies acted within the law and there were proper privacy safeguards in place.
“Our security organisations will always act in accordance with the law and they will always act with appropriate safeguards in place,” he said.
Abbott pointed out that intelligence gathering in Australia is subject to supervision by the joint parliamentary committee and the inspector general of intelligence and security.