AFP seeks help to keep tabs on protest groups

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AFP seeks help to keep tabs on protest groups

Tracking of web activity to be outsourced.

The Australian Federal Police is looking to hire a third party to track publicly available information on protest activity and potentially violent political groups, claiming that the volume of information available online has swamped its in-house resources.

Tender documents released yesterday seek the “monitoring, collation and analysis of open source information” on a 24/7 basis, with the results to be handed to the AFP via a regular electronic briefing.

The feds are also looking for “one-off email alerts notifying of events which may be of interest, such as those that may affect public order, those where circumstances have changes or updated at short notice or those that have not been previously noted in the regular report”.

The AFPs protection assessment team (PAT) is in charge of sourcing intelligence on potential risks to high profile and public figures, and high risk public sites which the Government has assessed as being likely targets of terrorism or ‘issue motivated violence’.

But keeping track of the online activity of protest and political groups appears to have grown beyond the unit’s internal capacity.

“Due to the nature of the work AFP Protection undertakes, and the volume of information available, PAT requires assistance with collection and monitoring of open source material," the agency stated in tender documents.

Reports are set to include detailed analysis of planned protest events, including date and time, location, organisers, copies of flyers and promo material and estimates of the number of people expected to turn up.

The regular reports will also be expected to list any planned activities that could disrupt “Australian high office holders” or visits from foreign dignitaries.

However, the data contained in these reports will be limited to publicly obtainable information, such as social media posts and interactions.

“The service provider will not be required to collect any information unlawfully or covertly,” tender documents state.

The AFP hopes to have a five-year contract signed by 9 February 2015.

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