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Call for clarification on interception laws.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/269 THURSDAY 1 APRIL 2004

SENATOR BRIAN GREIG AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS ATTORNEY GENERAL & JUSTICE SPOKESPERSON

CALL FOR CLARIFICATION ON INTERCEPTION LAWS The Australian Democrats are concerned that the Government has once again backed away from clarifying whether the Telecommunications (Interception) Act applies to e-mail, SMS and voicemail messages. There has been uncertainty on this issue since the Government introduced the first anti-terrorism package of legislation in 2002.

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies already have wide-ranging powers to tap telephones and private conversations with the mandatory safeguard of a warrant. The Democrats believe it should be no different for other forms of communication.

Democrats Attorney General & Justice spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, says the Governments admission that the AFP may already be accessing stored e-mails, SMS and voicemail messages without an interception warrant.

"Unauthorised access to communications violates the right to privacy, so accountability measures must be in place to ensure this is not abused," Senator Greig said.

The Democrats want clarification that intelligence and law enforcement agencies are not entitled to access private communications between individual Australians without a warrant.

"We need this situation to be clarified once and for all. We want no ambiguity over such an important issue," Senator Greig said.

"We call on the Government to resolve these issues as soon as possible, so this Parliament can finally achieve certainty on the use of these invasive powers," Senator Greig said.

Media Contact - Di Graham - 02) 6277 3338 or 0417 177 523