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Review of Telecommunication (Interception) Act.

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November 26, 2003 R033/2003


A report on the review of certain aspects of the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 is supportive of many of the amendments the Government made to the Act in 2000, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock announced today.

Mr Ruddock said the tabling of the report delivers on the Government’s commitment to review the Act within three years of the commencement of amendments.

Mr Tom Sherman AO conducted a review of the Act focusing on the need for named person warrants and the adequacy of safeguards and reporting requirements contained in the Act. The terms of reference also encompassed other pressing telecommunications interception policy issues.

“In reviewing the need for named person warrants, which authorise the interception of any telecommunications service used or likely to be used by the person named on the warrant, I am pleased to note that Mr Sherman found that named person warrants were effective and there remains a need for them to continue,” Mr Ruddock said.

“The review report states that telecommunications interception in recent years would not have been as effective in law enforcement and national security operations without named person warrants.”

Mr Sherman made eight recommendations touching on the security of interception facilities, procedures for making warrant applications and the adequacy of reporting under the Act, among other matters.

“His conclusions stated that the regulatory regime established under the Act contains adequate safeguards and reporting mechanisms, and that the regime has a strong compliance culture which is well audited by the inspecting authorities,” he said.

Mr Sherman was engaged by the Attorney-General’s Department to conduct the review on the basis of his distinguished career as a government lawyer and his experience as Chairman of the National Crime Authority from 1992 to 1996.

In carrying out the review, Mr Sherman interviewed intercepting agencies, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and his State counterparts, judges and AAT members responsible for issuing telecommunications interception warrants and representatives of the major telecommunications carriers. Mr Sherman also received a number of written submissions addressing the terms of reference.

The Government will now consider Mr Sherman’s recommendations.

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