Thursday, 05 March 2020 22:50

New bill will give other countries access to data in Australia Featured

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New bill will give other countries access to data in Australia Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Federal Government has introduced legislation into parliament to make it possible for foreign countries to access stored or intercepted communications and telecommunications data within Australia, with Australia able to have reciprocal rights.

The bill has technical amendments to ensure local service providers can respond to lawful orders for communications data from other countries with which Australia has an international agreement.

Cabinet minister Alan Tudge, who introduced the bill on Thursday, said it would enable the country to keep up-to-date with modern technology.

"Almost every serious crime and national security threat today has an online element," he said. "As serious criminals and malicious actors adapt to these changes so too must our agencies."

Access to data within Australia would be overseen by a judge or a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The government has been eager to negotiate a deal with the US under the CLOUD Act which Washington put in place in 2018. The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act changed US law so that law-enforcement warrants apply to data stored anywhere by US-based tech firms.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who is in the US, said in a statement that the bill, officially known as the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020, would allow Australian law enforcement and national security agencies to lawfully access electronic information across borders without significant delay.

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of serious crimes such as terrorism and child exploitation are too important to be stalled, or even derailed, by outdated, cumbersome processes when evidence includes communication data held in a different country.”

Dutton said the US had paved the way for much more efficient international crime co-operation with the CLOUD Act.

“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.”


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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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