Barely a week after the Department of Home Affairs consultation period closed, Minister Dutton has pushed into parliament a version of the Assistance and Access Bill 2018 with only minor changes. This was then referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), which is now running its own consultation period, closing on 12 October 2018. You can see the details here.
It seems odd to us (and many other groups with expertise in this area) that all of the submissions to the original consultation could have been appropriately considered within the incredibly short time frame between the consultation closing and the bill being introduced to Parliament. Certainly, the level of changes (removing protecting government revenue as a reason for action under the bill) indicate that the vast majority of the feedback (our submission is here; a list of other responses is here) was ignored. The Department of Home Affairs itself hasn’t even yet managed to publish all the submissions.
It’s not just ITPA that is concerned about this — an alliance of a number of industry groups has been formed to fight this legislation. Called ‘The Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet’, it comprises a number of significant members: Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Access Now, Ai Group, Australian Information Industry Association, Amnesty International Australia, AMTA, Blueprint for Free Speech, members of Communications Alliance sans nbn, DIGI, Digital Rights Watch, Future Wise, Hack for Privacy, Human Rights Law Centre, Internet Australia, IoT Alliance Australia and Liberty Victoria. ITPA hopes to join this alliance shortly.
The PJCIS submission date is just over a week away. If you have any interest in this proposed legislation (be it to support it or oppose it), then I urge you to make a submission to the PJCIS here.
ITPA has asked to be invited to the (single) day of hearings by the PJCIS. We will keep you informed of progress in this area.