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Snapshot

  • The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 became law on 8 December 2018.
  • It introduces a number of measures designed to address the ongoing problem faced by agencies of ‘going dark’ in order to access the meta data of terrorist suspects.
  • The Act creates a new industry framework for law enforcement and security agencies to access data and content held by designated communications providers within or outside the Australian jurisdiction.
  • The Act has implications (and perhaps unforeseen ramifications) for the operation of the United States’ CLOUD Act 2018.

The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 was introduced to Parliament by the Minister for Home Affairs on 20 September 2018, sparking enormous national interest. The Attorney-General subsequently referred the Bill to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (‘PJCIS’) for inquiry and report. The Inquiry received submissions from the Law Society of NSW, the Law Council of Australia, a large number of other commercial and private legal institutions, carrier industry providers, government, NGOs and law enforcement and security agencies.

On 8 December 2018 the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act (‘TOLA Act’), received royal assent and became law. The reason given for the rapid passage of such complex and significant reforms, was reportedly a heightened risk of terrorist incidents over the Christmas and New Year period.

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