Espionage and Foreign Interference

Certain foreign state actors have an interest in coercing and manipulating the Australian Government, businesses, individual decision-making, and communities to benefit their own political, economic and commercial interests.

Espionage and Foreign Interference (EFI) represent a serious threat to Australia’s national interests, including our political systems, our military capabilities, our trade and economic interests, our intellectual property, and the safety and democratic freedoms of our communities.

In June 2018, the Australian Government introduced new national security legislation (the National Security Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Act 2018) to combat the growing challenge of foreign interference, and to protect Australia’s sovereignty, values and national interests.

What is Espionage and Foreign Interference?


Espionage is the theft of information by someone acting on behalf of a foreign state actor, or intending to provide information to a foreign power, which is seeking an advantage over Australia. Espionage can target defence, political, industrial, foreign relations, commercial or other information that is otherwise unavailable to the foreign power.

Foreign Interference

Foreign interference represents a serious threat to Australia's people, sovereignty and security, and the integrity of our national institutions. Threats of foreign interference are not constrained to one sector of the Australian community nor perpetrated by a single nation-state. Hostile foreign state actors (countries that undertake hostile activity against other countries) are creating and pursuing opportunities to interfere with Australian decision-makers at all levels of government and across a range of sectors, including: democratic institutions; education and research; media and communications; critical infrastructure; and importantly, our culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

The Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce

The AFP is a member of the Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce (the Taskforce). Established in March 2020, the Taskforce conducts multi-agency investigations into potential foreign interference and espionage threats. The Taskforce investigates criminal offences relating to EFI, and is dedicated to detecting, disrupting, and where possible, prosecuting EFI-related activity.

The Taskforce is led by the AFP and ASIO, and includes:

  • Australian Signals Directorate
  • Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation
  • Office of National Intelligence.

Read more: Foreign interference in the community

If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

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