26 September 2023

New laws to spread telco access

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New legislation that promised to see Australian law enforcement and national security agencies able to access electronic information with partners worldwide has been introduced into Parliament.

Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton said the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020 set up a new framework in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 which allowed the issue of orders for data directly to communications providers subject to an international agreement.

“The global connectivity of the internet means evidence once stored in Australia and available under a domestic warrant is now distributed over many different services, in different countries,” Mr Dutton said.

“Investigations of serious crimes such as terrorism and child exploitation are too important to be stalled, or even derailed, by outdated, cumbersome processes when evidence includes communication data held in a different country.”

He said the Bill’s new framework was an essential precondition for Australia to obtain a proposed bilateral agreement with the United States pursuant to its Clarifying the Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (the CLOUD Act).

“The United States, where many of the world’s biggest communication providers are based, paved the way for much more efficient international crime cooperation with the CLOUD Act,” Mr Dutton said.

“A CLOUD Act agreement with the United States will significantly benefit our law enforcement and national security agencies by allowing orders for communication data to be directed at those providers, with robust privacy and civil liberty protections,” he said.

“There will be no trade-off of Australia’s existing privacy and civil liberty protections to achieve this most welcome boost to our agencies’ ability to keep Australians safe.”

Mr Dutton said the Bill included technical amendments that would ensure Australian service providers could respond to lawful orders for communications data from trusted countries with which Australia has an international agreement.

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