What we need to change
Here's an overview of the elements we think need urgent change. For more detail on any of the below, feel free to look at our full submission here.
Our submission focuses on four key areas:
1) Remove the possibility for individuals employees to be targeted
Founders need to be informed of what actions the government are taking in their businesses, and employees need to be able to inform their management of any government requirements of them, as well as seek legal advice provided by the company. In its current form, the legislation still allows TCNs to target individuals, and while Home Affairs have insisted this is not their intention that the government target individual employees, the letter of the law still allows this practice and must therefore be amended.
2) Reduce the breadth of organisations that may be targeted
Despite the Act clearly targeting communications between criminals, the definition of a communications provider is so broad that it essentially encompasses any digital product on the internet. Computer games, online shopping, business tools, databases, health and wellbeing products and any application on your phone is within the scope of the law. This level of overreach needs to be curtailed.
3) Increase oversight and provide limits on use
Australia is hampered here by our lack of a Bill of Rights or equivalent legislation. We have no individual right to privacy and/or unreasonable search and seizure with which we can appeal. Additionally, items in the Act designed to limit its power like 'systematic vulnerability' and 'reasonable' remain undefined. It is critical therefore that the Act include a rigorous, objective, merits-based review to ensure the powers bestowed under the Act are being used appropriately.
4) Reduce the broad basis for executing the powers of the Act
While the political narrative was that the Act was important for fighting paedophile rings and terrorists, the legislation allows for these powers to be used in the investigation of any crime with a maximum jail sentence of three years - essentially any non-trivial crime. In fact, the maximum penalty for unauthorised disclosure of information pertaining to this Act is five years jail time, qualifying it as a serious offence under the legislation. Far from being a critical tool in our most important moments, these powers will instead become part of the daily toolkit of law enforcement.
To sign your own name as a supporter of the submission, head to our Google form. We'll be publishing a list of supporters publicly.