‘Significant and workable’: LCA backs cyber safeguard bill recommendations

‘Significant and workable’: LCA backs cyber safeguard bill recommendations

09 August 2021 By Emma Ryan
LCA backs cyber safeguard bill recommendations

The Law Council of Australia has endorsed key reforms set to give new powers to the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to tackle cyber crime.

The peak legal body said the recently tabled parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security’s (PJCIS) advisory report on the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 will go a long way in addressing cyber-crime issues plaguing the country.

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The LCA put forward its recommended improvements to the bill in May and said it’s pleasing that the PJCIS has agreed that there were problems with the proposed legislation.

“The proposed legislation confers three extraordinary new powers on the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to tackle serious cyber-enabled crime,” said LCA president Dr Jacoba Brasch QC.

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This includes powers to disrupt data on computer devices, networks or systems (such as taking down websites or servers), powers to remotely access computers for the purpose of collecting criminal intelligence, and powers to ‘lock out’ the lawful users of online accounts such as banking, governmental services like Medicare and social security, cloud-based data storage and social media.

“While the Committee was satisfied that there is a credible need for the powers, the Committee’s recommendations recognise and agree with the Law Council’s primary concern that the proposed legislative framework does not meet the essential requirements of proportionality.

“The Committee also shared the Law Council’s concern that the Bill does not presently make adequate provision for the Parliamentary and independent operational oversight of the exercise of powers under the new regime.”

Dr Brasch noted the LCA is particularly pleased about the committee’s recommendations for the judicial issuance of warrants, more robust issuing criteria that require structured assessments of necessity and proportionality, more targeted scoping of intrusive powers, and the sunsetting of the new powers after a period of five years (with statutory reviews to be conducted by the Committee and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor)”.

“All of the Committee’s recommendations will add significant and workable safeguards to the legislative framework for the new powers,” she said.

This will greatly enhance public trust and confidence in the important and difficult work of our law enforcement agencies undertake in tackling serious and organised crime, and particularly heinous crimes against vulnerable persons such as child sexual abuse.”

‘Significant and workable’: LCA backs cyber safeguard bill recommendations
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