New telecommunications competition law amendments

The Federal Government has introduced the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Bill 2016 to repeal the telecommunications-specific anti-competitive conduct rules set out in Divisions 2 and 3 of Part XIB of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA). The changes follow the Government’s decision to strengthen the general misuse of market power law in section 46 of the CCA (which will be amended to reflect the Part XIB rules).

The decision is a result of the Government's recent consultation on the telecommunications anti-competitive conduct laws.

A copy of the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum can be accessed here and here.

New telecommunications security bill

On 9 November 2016 the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (Cth) (the Bill) was introduced to amend the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) and related legislation. The Bill proposes to establish a formal regulatory framework to manage national security risks of espionage, sabotage, and foreign interference to Australia’s telecommunications networks and facilities. Currently national security risks to the telecommunications sector are largely managed through informal cooperative arrangements with industry.

A copy of the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum is available here.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is seeking submissions as part of its inquiry into the Bill. Submissions are sought by 3 February 2017.

Further information about how to make a submission is available here.

Census inquiry report published by Senate

The Senate Economics Reference Committee has published its report following its inquiry into issues with the 2016 census.

As part of its 16 recommendations, the Committee recommended that:

  • any Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) in relation to the census is conducted externally with the final report published on the ABS website 12 months in advance of a census;
  • if changes are recommended from a PIA, the ABS should undertake consultation with the outcomes clearly documented on the ABS website at least six months before a census;
  • any breach of census data to be reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner within one week of ABS becoming aware of the breach; and
  • the Australian Government should commit the necessary funding for the 2021 census in the 2017–18 Federal Budget.

A copy of the report is available here.

Productivity Commission draft report on data availability and use

On 3 November 2016 the Productivity Commission released its draft report on data availability and use in Australia, recommending reforms to data collection, management, and access practice and regulation. The scope of the inquiry includes examining the benefits and costs of options for increasing availability of public sector data to other public sector agencies, the private sector, research sector, academics and the community.

The Commission's proposed reforms include:

  • new rights for consumers, making them 'joint rights-holders' with respect to their data and allowing them to request and access their data and to be advised of disclosure of their data to third parties; and
  • a new regulator, the National Data Custodian, with a power to designate certain public or private datasets as a 'National Interest Dataset' and require its disclosure.

A copy of the draft report is available here.

Government consultation on ICT procurement from small businesses

The Federal government has released a consultation paper on how to improve innovation in government through ICT procurement, including by opening up ICT procurement to allow participation from smaller businesses. Submissions are sought by 31 January 2017.

A copy of the consultation paper is available here.

For more information or to make a submission, see here.

ACCC report on unfair terms in small business contracts

The ACCC has released a report outlining its concerns with common terms in standard form small business contracts in key industries including advertising, telecommunications, independent contracting and franchising. The regulator identified issues with clauses in telecommunications contracts such as unilateral variation, early termination charges, limited liability, and wide indemnities.

The report coincides with the commencement of new legislation on 12 November 2016 which extends protections to small businesses from unfair contract terms in standard form contracts.

A copy of the report is available here.

ACMA determination - Unacceptable Levels of Interference (2 GHz Band)

The ACMA has made the Radiocommunications (Unacceptable Levels of Interference – 2 GHz Band) Determination 2016 (the Determination). The purpose of the Determination is to set out what is an unacceptable level of interference caused by a radiocommunications transmitter operating under a spectrum licence issued in the 2 GHz band.

A copy of the determination is available here.