The Law Council of Australia has welcomed a new review into encryption legislation, which it says will play a vital role in ensuring public trust.
Earlier this week the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) confirmed it has opened up its review of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 (Cth) to enable public consultations into encryption legislation.
The move comes after the act was referred to the INSLM for review by the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security (PJCIS).
LCA president Arthur Moses SC said he welcomed the INSLM’s recognition that transparency of national security laws was a prerequisite to obtaining public confidence in these laws.
“The consultation for this review will play a very important role in ensuring public trust in this legislation,” Mr Moses said, noting that “serious concerns” remain in relation to the encryption legislation, which is thought by many to have been “rushed through the last parliament’.
“The law council supports aspects of this act that give agencies additional powers to help keep us safe,” Mr Moses said.
“However, we continue to hold serious concerns about how encryption legislation could impact the privacy and rights of law-abiding Australian citizens, the media and corporate sector.
“The law council looks forward to making a submission to the review to assist [in] the INSLM’s consideration of this important matter.”
Some of the concerns the LCA has with the act, it says, include “the potential for notices to be issued to telecommunications providers requiring them to provide information that would otherwise require a warrant, and the absence of judicial oversight for such notices to be issued”.
The LCA said it also has concerns the act will allow “law enforcement or ASIO to effectively detain individuals to provide ‘compulsory assistance’ without the necessary safeguards for detention, including being allowed to contact a lawyer; and failing to make clear that legal professional privilege is protected in all circumstances”.