Tuesday, 14 August 2018 08:47

Whistleblowers will get five years jail under new cyber law Featured

Whistleblowers will get five years jail under new cyber law Pixabay

Individuals who disclose information about any of the three classes of notice to technology or Internet companies, seeking co-operation over an investigation, can be jailed for five years, under a new draft law unveiled on Tuesday.

Under the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, a draft of which was released this morning for public comment, a wide range of people are covered by this part of the proposed legislation.

The law appears to aim at discouraging whistleblowers by including public servants — employees of the Federal, State or Territory Governments — among those who could be sent to jail for disclosing information of this kind.

Some of the categories of people covered are:

  • a designated communications provider;
  • an employee of a designated communications provider;
  • a contracted service provider of a designated communications provider;
  • an employee of a contracted service provider of a designated communications provider; or
  • an entrusted ASIO person; or an entrusted ASIS person; or
  • an entrusted ASD person; or
  • an officer of an interception agency; or
  • an officer or employee of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.

The law also specifies that Australian entities would be asked to co-operate with requests for assistance from abroad, if local authorities deem this is necessary.

Another thing specified by the law is that hacking back — that is, infiltrating computers in other jurisdictions, if deemed necessary to obtain information for an investigation — can only be carried out with a judicial warrant.

A court can refuse to admit evidence from such sources if it is satisfied that it was not obtained by legal means.

The government has invited feedback on the draft bill which can be sent to assistancebill.consultation@homeaffairs.gov.au by 10 September.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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