Sunday, 14 April 2019 17:42

Tech laws need more consultation, AIIA tells govt Featured

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Ron Gauci: "The government’s reaction shows a complete lack of understanding of the modern economy and the role of ICT in underpinning economic growth." Ron Gauci: "The government’s reaction shows a complete lack of understanding of the modern economy and the role of ICT in underpinning economic growth." Supplied

The speed at which two crucial pieces of technology-related legislation have passed through Parliament has alarmed the Australian Information Industry Association which has called for more consultation between government and industry.

The AIIA, the peak member body for the ICT industry, said in a statement that the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 — better known as the encryption law — was passed on 6 December 2018, and more recently amendments to Australia's Criminal Code were passed in the wake of the massacre of 50 Muslims in a Christchurch mosque on 15 March.

AIIA chief executive Ron Gauci said more dialogues was needed between the government and industry to ensure that whatever laws were passed kept pace with the development of technology.

"The government’s reaction shows a complete lack of understanding of the modern economy and the role of ICT in underpinning economic growth," he said.

"The unintended consequences of both pieces of legislation, and the damage to the Australian digital sector and multinational companies operating in Australia are yet to be understood."

Gauci pointed out that amendments proposed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security had not been revisited since the encryption law was passed. And the Criminal Code amendments had been rushed through on 5 April with no consultation with industry.

“In the case of the Assistance and Access Act, a consultation process was undertaken," Gauci admitted. "However, the speed at which the Bill was introduced in parliament — seven business days after public consultations closed — suggests that very little consideration was given to the over 344 public submissions.

“Critically, both sets of legislation fail to establish clear processes for companies to follow. Without greater dialogue between the digital industry and government, and the departments that serve the government of the day, we will continue to see implementation of regulatory frameworks that are out of step with technological developments.”

After the encryption law was passed, another review was begun by the PJCIS but in its report, dated 3 April, it made no recommendations for any changes, merely kicking the law down the road for a review by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Dr James Renwick, who has been asked to review the law and report back by 1 March 2020.

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Sam Varghese

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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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