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Inquiry on the impact of new and emerging information and communications technology on Australia law enforcement agencies

The submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement’s (the Committee) inquiry into the impact of new and emerging information and communications technology (ICT) on Australian law enforcement agencies (the Inquiry) has been prepared by the Law Council and acknowledges the assistance of it's National Criminal Law Committee and the Law Society of New South Wales in preparation of this submission. 

The Law Council acknowledges that the Inquiry follows the legislative changes in comparable jurisdictions which sought to address ICT challenges of law enforcement agencies. This includes the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (UK) and the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (NZ).

The Law Council notes that the Terms of Reference for this inquiry are very broad, and do not provide any specific policy proposals for consideration and comment. Further, the matters outlined in the Terms of Reference are themselves very broad and do not reflect the nuanced nature of the ‘challenges’ identified or the potential issues that these forms of technology may pose to law enforcement agencies. As such, the Law Council offers the following general comments.

The first part of this submission will outline the guiding principles that the Committee should have regard to when considering the adequacy of existing ICT capabilities of Australian law enforcement agencies. This includes certain rule of law principles and human rights obligations in regard to ensuring that any expansion of law enforcement capabilities are necessary and proportionate to rights of privacy and freedom of opinion and expression, security of personal information and client legal privilege.

Identifying these principles at the outset may assist to identify the different interests involved in relation to the impact of new and emerging ICT on Australian law enforcement agencies, and to resolve in a principled manner the tensions which may arise when seeking to determine the most appropriate legislative responses.

The second part of this submission will provide further general comments in relation to the use of certain types of technology by Australian law enforcement agencies and a proposal for a principled consideration of privacy and data security issues when developing new policy and legislation in this area.

You can read the full submission below.

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