The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is holding an inquiry into the newly introduced Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment Bill 2009 (Cth). We recently sent our concerns about the exposure draft for this Bill to the Attorney-General's department. At the time, we were worried that the proposed legislation provided a very broad exception to the general prohibition on interception of telecommunications. The original wording of the exposure draft would have allowed any network operators to monitor their networks for compliance with acceptable use policies or other user agreements. It then provided no real limitations on the disclosure of this information. We were very concerned that this would allow consumer ISPs to monitor their subscribers' internet access and disclose communications to third parties.
I am happy to say that the Bill as introduced has removed the greatest majority of our concerns. It appears to be closely tailored to network security purposes, and the ability to monitor for whether a network is being 'appropriately used' is limited to Commonwealth agencies. There are additionally much stronger limitations as to when intercepted information can be disclosed.
The Senate LACA has called for submissions to the Bill by 09 October 2009. We will be drafting a submission in the next week. If you have continuing concerns about the Bill or want to help with our submission, please see the draft submission on the wiki.