Thursday, 26 March 2015
Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015; In Committee
I did not move them; you are quite correct. I circulated them, yes. They are on the running sheet showing as identical to mine, that is all. Under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, the distinction between a criminal law enforcement agency and an enforcement agency allows for some agencies that have enforcement functions but not criminal law enforcement functions to have limited access powers. In order to have full access powers an agency must have a criminal law enforcement function.
I take the point that, under this bill, the agencies with access will be named in the bill. I think that is an excellent idea, but this takes account of the fact that additional agencies can be added. The amendment seeks to prevent regulatory creep by omitting proposed definitions of 'criminal law enforcement agency' as set out in clause 110A and 'enforcement agency' as set out in clause 176A altogether and reverting to the current approach in the telecommunications interception act of setting up these agencies in the definitions section. There is an express reference to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in the definition of enforcement agency in amendment (38). By virtue of this amendment, the only way for new agencies to be added will be by an amending act, which will enhance parliamentary scrutiny and oversight, and the distinction between criminal law enforcement agency and enforcement agency is thus preserved.
This approach also ensures that ASIC and ACCC do not get themselves onto the list of government approved, government sanctioned nosy parkers. Those two agencies already have large and intrusive powers, sometimes in excess of those enjoyed by agencies more properly considered criminal law enforcement bodies. Those powers should not be further expanded, particularly as they may be used to pursue trivial infractions such as collusion among service stations over petrol prices.