Industry welcomes Government’s commitment to address issues in telco security legislation
Sydney, 27 July 2015 – A coalition of industry groups representing more than 60,000 Australian businesses has welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment that it will work with industry to improve draft legislation designed to make telecommunications infrastructure more resilient to external threats.
The coalition, comprising the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) and Communications Alliance, today released its submission to Government outlining its concerns with the draft Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, (also referred to as the Telecommunications Sector Security Reform (TSSR) initiative).
The industry groups acknowledge the importance of the Government’s objective of protecting telecommunications infrastructure and the information transmitted across it from interference but stress that industry already has a strong interest and demonstrated expertise in ensuring Australia’s networks are secure.
The draft legislation goes too far in pursuit of the security objective by creating wide-ranging powers for Government to intervene in operational decisions such as buying equipment and choosing vendors and demanding commercially sensitive information from companies involved in the telecommunications industry. As a result, industry is very concerned the legislation would not deliver the increased protection the proposed reforms are aiming to achieve while also imposing significant new costs and red tape on industry.
In their submission (www.commsalliance.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/49744/TSSR.pdf) the industry groups identified a number of concerns and areas for improvement, including that the legislation:
- Could create significant additional and intrusive powers for Government to intervene in the commercial operations of telecommunications businesses;
- Could discourage investment in and the adoption and deployment of new network technologies;
- Is likely to impose additional costs on industry and ultimately consumers;
- Does not offer indemnity to service providers against the risk of civil litigation through ‘safe harbours’, thereby limiting information sharing and the ability to quickly respond to threats and to jointly engage in preventative action;
- Is inconsistent with regulatory approaches to protecting networks in other countries, including the UK, USA and Canada; and
- Lacks transparency and fails to provide adequate consultative mechanisms and avenues of appeal.
Given these concerns the group welcomed the recent assurances from the Minister for Communications, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, and the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis, that Government will closely consider the feedback from industry to ensure a workable outcome can be reached.
Industry is yet to be convinced that there are sufficient grounds to warrant the proposed reforms and the costs and intrusion into the commercial operations of Australian telecommunications companies and their suppliers that they represent.
ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.
Its vision is to
provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead
it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and
services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the
growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of
consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics
and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about
Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au
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