INDUSTRY BACKS IMPROVEMENTS TO NATIONAL SECURITY BILL

Sydney, 30 June 2017 – Major industry groups today endorsed the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), designed to overcome deficiencies in the Government’s latest piece of national security legislation.

The PJCIS has recommended a range of amendments to the Telecommunications Sector Security Reform (TSSR) legislation and the further development of associated Administrative Guidelines, which would provide greater clarity and transparency to Industry as it begins the task of attempting to comply with the new security regime.

The industry groups called on the Attorney-General to accept the Committee’s recommendations – many of which directly address the problems that Industry identified during its testimony to the PJCIS – before seeking to pass the legislation through Federal Parliament.

The submission to the PJCIS was lodged jointly by a coalition of associations including Communications Alliance, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA).

Industry also proposed a more definite, 6-month, timeframe for the development of the revised Guidelines recommended by the Committee, to ensure Industry has time to comply before the measures takes full effect.

The TSSR framework, contained within the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, creates a legislative obligation on service providers to protect telecommunications networks from unauthorised interference, including espionage and other attacks. It also places a range of obligations on Industry to notify security agencies of any changes to networks that could increase the risk levels of those networks.

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, commented: “We always prefer to have amendments captured in the legislation itself, rather than in Guidelines, but the PJCIS has done an excellent job of highlighting to Government the remaining weaknesses in the legislation, and Government should accept the recommendations.”

The draft legislation had already been heavily amended in consultations between Industry and Government over the past two years, to remove some of the more serious problems that showed up in the earlier versions.

The PJCIS responded to additional Industry concerns by recommending the creation of new Guidelines to clarify the obligations relating to:

  • the provision or resale of over-the-top (OTT) services, cloud computing and cloud storage solutions;
  • infrastructure that is used by service providers to offer services, but is not actually owned or controlled by the service provider; and
  • infrastructure located offshore.

The PJCIS also called on Government to work collaboratively with Industry to create better information sharing relating to possible threats. Industry had pointed out that the legislation created such an obligation on Industry, but no equivalent obligation on Government.

Industry also welcomed a recommendation to strengthen the requirements on Government to report annually to Parliament on the operation of the regime. But Industry raised concern that the new Guidelines to be developed will only need to be completed by the end of the 12-month period of implementation of the new regime.

“This work should be done within the first 6 months – and with full Industry involvement – so that Industry has some breathing space in which to complete its compliance work, before the legislation takes full effect,“ Mr Stanton said.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) is the national body representing Australia’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry. Since establishing 36 years ago, the AIIA has pursued activities aimed to stimulate and grow the ICT industry, to create a favourable business environment for its members and to contribute to the economic imperatives of the Australian nation. AIIA’s goal is to create a world class information, communications and technology industry delivering productivity, innovation and leadership for Australia.

The Association represents over 400 member organisations nationally, including global brands, international companies, national companies, and a large number of ICT SMEs. Its national board comprises representatives from hardware, software, and services companies and represents the diversity of the industry.
For more details about AIIA visit https://www.aiia.com.au.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) is the peak industry body representing Australia’s mobile telecommunications industry. Its mission is to promote an environmentally, socially and economically responsible, successful and sustainable mobile telecommunications industry in Australia, with members including the mobile carriage service providers, handset manufacturers, network equipment suppliers, retail outlets and other suppliers to the industry.
For more details about AMTA visit http://www.amta.org.au.

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body  in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to  provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead  it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and  services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of  consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about  Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.

Media information contact:
Sefiani Communications
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558