Senate intercepts wiretapping bill

Bugged devices will need a warrant

A controversial bill to make wiretapping easier for law enforcement was shot down by Senate last week.

The Attorney-General's office attempted to steamroll the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment Bill last week to allow police and law enforcement agencies to wiretap a range of communication devices without requiring additional warrants.

Senators told Computerworld at a senate standing committee last month that the bill will breach the privacy of third parties conversing over intercepted channels.

The Democrat's AG spokesperson Natasha Stott Despoja said the bill was a "blank cheque" to add multiple devices at will.

"The government had hoped to rush this bill as a 'non-controversial bill', labeling it 'time critical' and stating it contained 'no new powers for security or law enforcement agencies'," Stott Despoja said.

"It only agreed to refer it to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for an inquiry after concerns were raised with it.

"The Democrats oppose device-based warrants in principle due to concerns about the ability to accurately and uniquely identify a telecommunications device. This regime [will] not be expanded, preventing further erosion of privacy rights and civil liberties."

The committee report claimed the Bill would remove important safeguards, and said law enforcement must identify all devices subject for a warrant.

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Darren Pauli

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