Issue No 1: 24 January 2019



Hot Topics
  • Assistance and Access Act 2018 (Encryption Bill) Forum - Register here
  • ACOMMS 2019 - Save the date
    15 August 2019


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Communications Alliance - Assistance and Access Act 2018 (Encryption Bill) Forum

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Hosted by


On 6 December 2018, the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendments (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 was passed in both Houses of Parliament after Labor had withdrawn a number of suggested amendments in return for Government’s promise to review the Act and consider the amendments in the New Year. The PJCIS is currently reviewing the legislation and is tasked to produce a report by 4 April 2019.

A collective of Industry Groups, including Communications Alliance, the Australian Industry Group(Ai Group), the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI) and the Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) has recently made a submission to the PJCIS recommending a raft of changes, drawing on the expertise of its members and incorporating the most useful aspects of the Labor amendments.

This Forum will provide an overview over the recommended changes to the legislation followed by observations from an expert panel, Q & A and discussion.

Event attendance:

  • Members of the organisations comprising the Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet
  • News media representatives
  • Baker McKenzie clients
  • Selected other stakeholders

Program: tbc









Arrival & Coffee

Welcome & Opening Remarks - John Stanton, CEO, Communications Alliance

Overview Joint Industry Submission to PJCIS Review - Christiane Gillespie-Jones, Director Program Management, Communications Alliance

Panel Discussion
Dr Vanessa Teague, Assoc. Prof, University of Melbourne (Cryptography)
Robert Hudson, President, Information Technology Professionals Association (IPTA)
Patrick Fair, Partner, Baker McKenzie
Ron Gauci, CEO, Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA)
Digital Rights Watch

Closing Remarks - John Stanton, CEO, Communications Alliance

When:Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 9.30am for 10.00am to 12.00pm
Where:SYDNEY - Baker McKenzie, Level 46, Tower One, Barangaroo, Sydney

incl. remote



SAVE THE DATE - Thursday 15 August 2019

The annual Australian Communications Industry Awards - the ACOMMS - recognise excellence in the wider communications industry, rewarding and profiling companies that have excelled within the industry around the nation, regardless of size, location, and whether service providers, vendors, or suppliers of professional services.

Now in their thirteenth year, the nationally recognised and highly-coveted ACOMMS will be awarded in 2019 on the evening of 15 August 2019 at the stunning Hyatt Regency in Sydney.

2019 Key Dates
Launch: Monday 11 February
Nominations Close: Friday 10 May
Early Bird Registrations Close: Friday 31 May
Shortlist Announced: Thursday 4 July
ACOMM Awards Presentation Dinner: Thursday 15 August

Visit the 2018 ACOMMS photo gallery here and highlights video here. And see the 2018 winners here.

ACOMMS 2019 - Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsoring the ACOMMS provides a unique opportunity for brand positioning. As a sponsor, you will have your organisation highlighted in front of a sell-out audience of more than 450 - including some of the most influential professionals and decision-makers in the Telco industry, Government and the regulatory sphere.  Please contact Carolyn Todd on +61 3 9663 3093 or email info@acomms.com.au to discuss sponsorship opportunities at the 2019 ACOMM Awards.


Changes Recommended to Repair Governments Encryption Legislation

Judicial oversight of new surveillance powers and clearly defined limits on agencies’ Notices top the list of a raft of changes recommended to the Government’s contested encryption legislation, in a new submission from Australia’s telecommunications, IT and internet industries.

The recommendations come in a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). The Committee is inquiring into the Government’s Assistance and Access Act 2018, which was pushed through the Senate in unusual circumstances on December 6 last year.

As part of a political ‘deal’ on that day, to have Labor withdraw its proposed amendments to the legislation, the Minister for Finance and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Matthias Cormann, publicly committed the Government to “facilitate consideration of these amendments in the New Year in government business time”.

  • create a warrant-based system to provide judicial consent to Notices issued by security agencies to communications providers under the legislation (as was also recommended in the Labor amendments);
  • clearly articulate and narrow the limits of what agencies can request of designated communications providers to reduce the risk of the creation of back-doors by agencies putting national cybersecurity at greater risk;
  • raise the threshold of criminal acts that the legislation can be used to combat and thus avoid less serious activities being captured by the new surveillance capabilities;
  • close a number of ambiguities and loopholes in the legislation, including one that allows the Government to access the metadata of journalists without obtaining a Special Journalist Warrant;
  • reduce the risks flowing from agencies’ power to order that surveillance software be installed in devices or services; and
  • strengthen the obligation on Government to consult with communications providers before issuing them with Notices requiring them to take anti-encryption measures;
  • ensure that providers are not required to comply with the new legislation if doing so would place them in breach with foreign law.

Organisations co-authoring the submission include Communications Alliance, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), the Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) and Digital Industry Group Inc. (DIGI).

The submission looks at necessary improvements to the Government amendments that were made to the legislation, supports the most useful aspects of the Labor amendments that were proposed and then withdrawn and examines some of the other outstanding problems with the legislation and offers potential solutions. 

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said: ”This bill was rushed through Parliament in flawed condition and we look forward to the Government honouring its public commitment to have further amendments considered, in the interests of the cybersecurity of all Australians.”

Kishwar Rahman, AIIA General Manager of Policy, commented: “The proposed powers are unprecedented, their remit unnecessarily broad, and whilst the consequences of their use are completely unknown, what is known is that the legislation is likely to cause greater issues than it purports to solve.”

Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said: “The extent of the impact of this legislation on industry and the broader community remains paradoxically poorly understood. It is urgent to minimise and clarify these impacts through sensible amendments and engagement with the wide range of affected industries.”

ITPA Director, Robert Hudson said: "The legislation shows a blatant disregard for and misunderstanding of how the Internet works, how online encryption operates and is used to secure millions of legitimate communications every day, and will almost certainly not prevent a single act of terrorism, child abuse or other serious crime that couldn't have been prevented otherwise.

“Instead, the privacy and security of law-abiding citizens is now almost certain to be compromised for commercial, criminal or other non-legitimate purposes as tools prove to be as useful as a chocolate teapot for the purpose they were developed for, and instead are released or leaked into the hands of those who would do us harm."

Transparency and Consumer Choice Focus for Consumer Safeguards Review

Australia should move to a simpler, more transparent framework of safeguards around the reliability of telecommunications services, ensuring secure access and customer choice in a competitive market, Communications Alliance has advised the Government’s Consumer Safeguards Review.

In a submission responding to the Review’s Part B consultation on the reliability of services, industry has proposed a clear set of principles from which to build a replacement for the complex, outdated and duplicative set of current rules.

As part of its reform proposals, industry recommends that Service Providers should:

  • publish and provide to customers their service quality commitments (commitments that are also backed up at the wholesale level), thus enabling consumers to choose the service that works best for their preferences and budgets; andpublish and provide to customers their service quality commitments (commitments that are also backed up at the wholesale level), thus enabling consumers to choose the service that works best for their preferences and budgets; and
  • provide tailored and transparent compensation for consumers if reliability commitments are not met.

The Communications Alliance submission supports the notion that consumers should have access to appropriate information gathered by regulators from service providers, but warned against the two overlapping industry regulators, - the ACCC and ACMA – each demanding similar information from service providers, in different formats and thereby driving up compliance costs. 

Industry disagreed firmly with some elements of the Government consultation paper, including its assertion that consumer safeguards are best delivered through direct regulation. The submission argues that – in line with The Australian Government Guide to Regulation - regulation should never be adopted as a default solution.

“The consumer safeguards framework needs to be designed for the challenges of the future,” said Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton

“It should be adaptable, efficient, and promote competition as the most effective way to achieve results for consumers and use the Government’s previously established best practice approach to regulation.”

In addition to the submission to Part B of the Consumer Safeguards Review, Industry hopes to continue working with the Department to establish common principles across the entire consumer safeguards framework.

Industry’s proposed overarching principles:


  • All Australians should be able to access telecommunications to enable participation in a digital society;
  • A ‘basic essential service’ should be available to all Australians; and
  • Communications infrastructure should be functional and reliable.


  • Communications markets should be open and competitive so as to encourage investment, innovation and diversity of choice.


  • Consumers should have access to information to allow them to make informed choices, based on their preferences;
  • Consumers should have appropriate avenues for redress; and
  • Consumers should be confident that their personal information is protected appropriately.

Communications Alliance’s submission to Part B of the Consumer Safeguards Review can be found here.

New Member

Communications Alliance is pleased to welcome the following new member;

ThoughtWorks Australia Pty Ltd



ThoughtWorks are a software company and a community of passionate, purpose-led individuals.

ThoughtWorks think disruptively to deliver technology to address our clients' toughest challenges, all while seeking to revolutionize the IT industry and create positive social change.

Support the Founder and Chair of Telco Together Foundation




We are delighted to announce that Vaughan Bowen, Founder and Chair of Telco Together Foundation, has been nominated for an Impact 25 Award.

Pro Bono Australia's Impact 25 Awards honour leaders in the Australian social sector, as nominated and voted for by their peers.

Vaughan is highly respected in the telco industry as the founder of the M2 Group, which he successfully steered from a startup to an ASX-listed national telecommunications company.

Vaughan recognised the power and potential of the telco industry to help disadvantaged Australians. In 2013 he used his own funds to create the Telco Together Foundation to make the vision of a collaborative industry endeavour a reality.

In the past five years, Telco Together has raised over $2.1 million for charity, in addition to generating operational funds.  The Foundation has facilitated 3,500 hours of volunteer time by telco staff, and delivered strategic projects, including the Text Giving fundraising platform, and the Small Change Big Change on-bill donation initiative.

You can help us recognise and celebrate Vaughan’s tireless efforts in advocating for the telco industry to work together to create a positive impact.

Vote for Vaughan by January 31, and please share widely with your networks.

Thanks for your support!





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