COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO WORK TOGETHER TO ADVANCE SECTOR-SPECIFIC CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE REFORMS
Sydney, 22 September 2020 - Communications Alliance today welcomed the Department of Home Affairs focus on principles-based outcomes for its recently proposed Critical Infrastructure Reforms, designed to further strengthen the security of vital infrastructure and systems across a range of Australian economic sectors.
“We share Government’s desire to protect Australia’s critical infrastructure. Our members are keen to assist Government to ensure that such infrastructure is secure and resilient in the face of natural disasters and other hazards”, commented CEO, John Stanton.
“The telecommunications sector already collaborates extensively and effectively with Government, security agencies and regulators across a number of regulatory and legislative instruments and frameworks to promote national security. The sector also engages with emergency services organisations as well as Federal and State organisations in relation to natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The telecommunication sector is subject to a number of stringent requirements, including under the Telecommunications Act 1997 and the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR), which require operators to assist law enforcement agencies and to protect their critical infrastructure, including in the associated supply chains.
“Given the very advanced nature of the security arrangements in the telecommunications sector, it is critical that a thorough gap analysis be undertaken to identify whether there are any areas that require additional attention. If Government agrees to do this, we are happy to work with all stakeholders to finetune the existing legislative framework of our sector, to ensure that consistent, efficient and proportionate arrangements are put in place.
“We also call on Government to ensure that the Reforms are supported by independent oversight and authorisation mechanisms, to strengthen national and overseas trust in Australia’s approach to national security and the actions of our security agencies.
“The protection of critical infrastructure is a national priority and, as such, must also be tackled through a collaborative approach across all sectors and stakeholders.
“It would be prudent for Government to bring together an expert group across all stakeholders and sectors to progress the implementation of the reforms.
“Such an approach was pursued successfully several years ago, to address the practicalities of implementing new data retention laws. It is an approach worth replicating, given the complexity of the changes that Government is proposing.”
Communications Alliance’s response to the Department of Home Affairs Consultation Paper Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Systems of National Significance can accessed here.
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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