Law Council backs public consultation into encryption legislation

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The Law Council of Australia has said that it supports public consultation into Australia’s new encryption law.

The consultation is part of the review of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 (Cth) by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM). The council said that it supports the review, which was announced last week.

“The consultation for this review will play a very important role in ensuring public trust in this legislation,” said Moses SC, Law Council president.

Moses said that while the council supports aspects of the act that give agencies additional powers to keep Australians safe, it continues to have “serious concerns” about the impact of the law on the privacy and rights of law-abiding Australian citizens, the media,  and the corporate sector.

The Law Council said in the past that the law, which it said was rushed through the last Parliament, could sidestep the need for warrants. It also said that the law allows enforcement or ASIO to effectively detain people to provide “compulsory assistance” without the necessary safeguards for detention, including the right to contact a lawyer.

The law also fails to make clear that legal professional privilege is protected under all circumstances, the council said. The council also takes issue with the law allowing senior bureaucrats at ASIO to confer civil immunity, instead of the attorney-general.