Thursday, 05 March 2020
Media release

Bill to usher in new era of international crime cooperation

The Morrison Government has today introduced a Bill that will enhance International crime cooperation by allowing Australian law enforcement and national security agencies to lawfully access electronic information across borders without significant delay.

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020 sets up a new framework in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 for the issue of orders for data directly to communications providers subject to an international agreement.

The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the Bill was an important step towards standing up agreements with close partner countries such as the United States for faster authorised access to electronic information.

“The global connectivity of the internet means evidence once stored in Australia and available under a domestic warrant is now distributed over many different services, in different countries,” Mr Dutton said.

“Investigations of serious crimes such as terrorism and child exploitation are too important to be stalled, or even derailed, by outdated, cumbersome processes when evidence includes communication data held in a different country.”

The Bill’s new framework is an essential precondition for Australia obtaining a proposed bilateral agreement with the United States pursuant to its Clarifying the Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (the CLOUD Act).

“The United States, where many of the world’s biggest communication providers are based, paved the way for much more efficient international crime cooperation with the CLOUD Act,” Mr Dutton said.

“A CLOUD Act agreement with the United States will significantly benefit our law enforcement and national security agencies by allowing orders for communication data to be directed at those providers, with robust privacy and civil liberty protections.

“There will be no trade-off of Australia’s existing privacy and civil liberty protections to achieve this most welcome boost to our agencies’ ability to keep Australians safe.”

The Bill includes technical amendments that ensure Australian service providers can respond to lawful orders for communications data from trusted countries with which Australia has an international agreement.

The Government is continuing negotiations for Australia’s bilateral CLOUD Act agreement with the United States, along with important consultations with the community, industry, and Australia’s law enforcement and national security agencies.