The long-awaited report of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Senate Committee's inquiry into the comprehensive revision of Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth) (the Act) was released on 24 March 2015. 

The Chair's recommendations on the existing regime for authorising access to telecommunications data include that the Act be amended:

  • To include an objects clause modelled on Article 17 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the privacy principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988
  • To enact a single attribute-based warrant regime applying to content and data that is 'information that allows a communication to occur'. Warrants under that regime should be limited to the investigation by law enforcement, anti-corruption or national security agencies of serious criminal activity or of activity that may have serious and immediate implications for national security. "Basic subscriber data" would continue to be accessed by enforcement agencies via the authorisation regime. 
  • To establish a Commonwealth Public Interest Monitor to have oversight of the warrant regime under the Act. 

The Chair made several recommendations about the then proposed Data Retention Bill which have largely been superseded by the passing of the Bill (see above article). 

The Chair also recommends that the government introduce a statutory right to privacy, similar to that which exists in the United Kingdom, rather than relying on international human rights instruments.

A copy of the report can be found here.