Report on the International Implications of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018

The Australian Privacy Foundation (“APF”), have prepared a report in response to the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Act (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 (Cth) (‘AA Act’), which amends the Telecommunications Act 1997 (‘TA’). In this report, we provide an analysis of the international ramifications of the AA Act, evaluating the legal obligations that could be imposed upon “designated communication providers” offering services or systems that are accessible by Australian internet and telecommunications users. The report outlines how service providers located anywhere in the world could be compelled to develop technology to assist Australian security agencies to access encrypted information with very limited oversight, and how foreign governments may be able to use the legislation for their own investigatory purposes under the purview of a joint investigation with Australia.

The AA Act has wide implications for the international community as it has been enacted despite:

  • Vague and unclear limits on ill defined, wide reaching powers;
  • Involving Australia’s enforcement of laws of foreign countries including countries with the death penalty or offences not recognised in Australia (lack of dual criminality);
  • Limited transparency and a lack of detailed reports accessible to Australians seeking to assess threats impacting on their information security;
  • The removal of judicial review; and,
  • Enhanced capability for information sharing among ‘Five Eyes’ (intelligence services from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US) nations, with no effective protections from abuse or misuse due to a lack of human rights protections for Australians.
The full report can be read here