Thursday, 31 January 2019 11:14

Home Affairs says encryption law amendments implemented Featured

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Home Affairs says encryption law amendments implemented Pixabay

All 17 amendments proposed to the Federal Government's encryption law, which was passed by Parliament on 6 December last year, have been implemented, the Department of Home Affairs says in a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

In the submission, Home Affairs claimed the new powers in the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 — which is being referred to as the TOLA Act — were already being used by law enforcement and national security agencies to support their work.

"The Department understands that Commonwealth law enforcement and national security agencies have used the powers in the Act to support operations and investigations. The Department refers to the submissions from agencies for further details on the use of the powers," the submission said.

However the only other submission received from a government agency as of today is from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation – which states that its contents are confidential and only viewable by the PJCIS.

Home Affairs noted, however, that there were "some potential issues with the operation of the Act" without any elaboration.

A majority of the submissions made when the draft bill was released and when the PJCIS was holding meetings last year were all highly critical of the bill.

The PJCIS said on 18 December it would begin a fresh review of the law as passed. The new review has asked for submissions and the committee will submit a report by 3 April.

The amendments could not be voted on before the bill was passed as the House had already risen for the day. Labor leader Bill Shorten agreed to pass the bill, on the proviso that the amendments would be passed during the first sitting of 2019.

The lack of time came about because the government delayed voting on another bill in the Senate – a cross-party push to amend existing legislation on moving refugees from Manus Island and Nauru to the mainland. The delay was a tactic adopted in order to prevent the bill going back to the lower house for a vote.

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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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