New National Intelligence Act sanctions use of electronic tools to access private information

The 2019 National Intelligence Act became effective on Wednesday (17 April), allowing the National Intelligence Agency to use any means, including electronic or other technologies, to access information.

The National Intelligence Act, which was published in the Government Gazette on 16 April, gives the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) the authority to order any government agency or person to hand over information or documents that affect national security within a timeframe specified by the NIA Director.

In cases where it is necessary to obtain information or documents relating to intelligence, Article 6 of the Act gives the NIA the power to use any means, including the use of electronic tools, scientific tools, telecommunications, or other technologies to obtain the information or document.

Article 12 also requires the NIA to establish a National Intelligence Coordinating Centre (NICC) to act as a central agency in coordinating intelligence works between national intelligence agencies. Article 13 gives the NICC the authority to

  1. Monitor, evaluate, and analyse the current situation both within and outside the country for 24 hours a day, including reporting daily news, urgent news, news of specific cases, and advance emergency warnings related to security, to the Prime Minister, the National Security Council, the Director, and other relevant agencies.
  2. Surveil threats to security, both in normal circumstances, when there are situations, and when there are important festivals, royal ceremonies, or important state meetings or ceremonies, in order to support the prevention or resolution of a situation in the case where a serious emergency situation occurs, and to continue actions until the situation is finalized.
  3. Provide information and coordination on news with the state sector, the private sector, and the public, both centrally and regionally.

From December 2018 to February 2019, the National Legislative Assembly has already passed over a hundred bills into law. Among these are the National Intelligence Act, which was passed on 1 February 2019, and the Cyber Security Act, which allows the National Cybersecurity Commission to continuously demand information from relevant parties on cybersecurity threats and require such parties to cooperate. It also gives the authorities to bypass court orders in “critical” situations.