In a major admission, the Attorney-General’s Department has revealed Australia's intelligence and law enforcement agencies are seeking the legal power to break into internet routing encryption services such as Tor, after admitting the centerpiece of its proposed national security reforms, data retention, will be "trivially easy" to defeat.

The admission by officials to Senate Estimates last night will give rise to further concerns that the department, which has systematically and aggressively expanded the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies at the expense of civil liberties and privacy, wants far stronger powers to regulate the internet and break into encrypted systems in order to keep an eye on what Australians are doing online.