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Crimes of Communication: The Implications of Australian Espionage Law for Global Media
Communication Law and Policy  (IF),  Pub Date : 2022-03-25, DOI: 10.1080/10811680.2021.2014293
Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, Sarah Kendall


Espionage has emerged as a leading national security threat for the digital age. Far from traditional wartime spy tactics, espionage now includes actors—including journalists—accessing and publishing sensitive information online to a global audience. This threat must be addressed; however, overbroad espionage laws have the capacity to criminalize legitimate journalism and chill free expression. This article examines the implications of Australia’s expansive 2018 counterespionage framework for foreign media. It argues that this broad suite of offenses creates a complex risk environment for global media reporting on issues that impact Australia’s national interest or foreign relations. These risks are exacerbated for media organizations owned or controlled by foreign governments and their journalists, sources, and associates. We consider whether the practical and political likelihood of extraterritorial enforcement alleviates the potential impact of the laws and argue for targeted reform to protect press freedom on a global scale.