Monday, 20 November 2017 Sydney
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Second Commissioner’s Statement: ATO digital forensic capability::

I would like to reassure the community about the ATO’s use of digital forensic capability, following media reports today.

The ATO does not monitor taxpayers’ mobile phones or remotely access their mobile devices.

Circumstances where the ATO uses technology such as the Universal Forensic Extraction software provided by Cellebrite, is to support criminal investigations. For example, where assets such as laptops or mobile devices may contain information about activity related to suspected organised crime or alleged large scale promotion of aggressive tax schemes.

These assets would first need to be accessed following a court ordered warrant, where it is determined that material specifically relating to the court warrant is held on those assets. As this activity is conducted legally, and never involves remote access to a device, it is not correct to refer to it as ‘hacking’. Any use of software that may bypass the security lock of a phone, is conducted with the relevant legislative approval (primarily section 3E of the Crimes Act) or following written consent from the owner of the device.

We will continue to work with other enforcement agencies in supporting criminal investigations, including through use of Universal Forensic Extraction software.

Ramez Katf

Second Commissioner of Taxation and Chief Information Officer