Updated: Australian cyber-related legislation before parliament, plus current inquiries

The Australian parliament has finished its business for February 2022, and there’s likely to be just three more sitting days before the election is called. Here’s a list of legislation and inquiries that have been making their way through the system and which are relevant to my interests — and perhaps yours.

Items added since 24 December 2021 are marked NEW. Items now marked as PASSED or REPORTED will be dropped in the next major revision of this post.

A red star indicates something that I’m intending to pay particular attention to.

Please let me know if anything is missing.

Bills currently before parliament

I’ve presented these in alphabetical order, as per the list of Bills before Parliament. I’ve chosen bills that relate to communications and the internet, the intelligence services, freedom of information, and related topics.

I’ve linked to any reports from the key oversight committee for each bill, but you’ll have to click on the title to get the explanatory memoranda and any other reports, such as those from the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills or the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill 2021 (No. 2)
The bill: establishes the Australian Federal Integrity Commission as an independent public sector anti-corruption commission for the Commonwealth; provides for the appointment, functions and powers of the Federal Integrity Commissioner, Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner, Whistleblower Protection Commissioner and Assistant Federal Integrity Commissioners; establishes the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Federal Integrity Commission; establishes the Parliamentary Inspector of the Australian Federal Integrity Commission; and makes consequential amendments to the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006, Ombudsman Act 1976 and Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
Status: Introduced to the House of Representatives on 25 Oct 2021.

Australian Passports Amendment (Identity-matching Services) Bill 2019
Amends the Australian Passports Act 2005 to enable the minister to make Australian travel document data available for the purposes of, and by the automated means intrinsic to, the identity-matching services to which the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed in the Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services, agreed by COAG on 5 October 2017.
Status: Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) reported on 20 October 2019, no action since.

Constitution Alteration (Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press) 2019
Subject to approval in accordance with section 128 of the Constitution, the bill proposes an alteration to the Constitution to provide that the Commonwealth, States and Territories must not limit freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media.
Status: Before the Senate, referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee.

NEW Crimes Legislation Amendment (Ransomware Action Plan) Bill 2022
This bill amends the Criminal Code Act 1995, the Crimes Act 1914, and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to modernise criminal offences and procedures to respond to the threat of ransomware.
Status: Before the House of Representatives.

Data Availability and Transparency (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020
Introduced with the Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020 to implement a scheme to authorise and regulate access to Australian Government data, the bill makes consequential amendments to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, Freedom of Information Act 1982 and Privacy Act 1988 in relation to the operation of the scheme.
Status: Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee reported on 29 April 2021, no action since.

Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020
Introduced with the Data Availability and Transparency (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020 to implement a scheme to authorise and regulate access to Australian Government data, the bill: authorises public sector data custodians to share data with accredited users in accordance with specific authorisations, purposes, principles and agreements; specifies the specific responsibilities imposed on data scheme entities; establishes and specifies the functions and powers of the National Data Commissioner as the regulator of the scheme; establishes and specifies the functions and membership of the National Data Advisory Council as an advisory body to the commissioner in relation to sharing and use of public sector data; and establishes the regulation and enforcement framework for the scheme.
Status: Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee reported on 29 April 2021, no action since.

NEW Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Identification) Bill 2022
This Bill makes amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 to require electors to display a proof of identity document, as defined by this Bill, before casting their ballot in a federal election or referendum.
Status: Before the Senate.

Freedom of Information Legislation Amendment (Improving Access and Transparency) Bill 2018
Amends the: Archives Act 1983 to require the reporting of external legal expenses incurred by the National Archives of Australia; Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 to: ensure that the Information Commissioner holds specified qualifications; and require the separate appointment of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Privacy Commissioner and the Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner; and Freedom of Information Act 1982 to: enable the transfer of Information Commissioner reviewable decisions to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT); require the consistent application of exemptions by decision makers in the context of a review by the Information Commissioner; prevent the Information Commissioner from making FOI decisions if he or she does not hold specified qualifications; prevent agencies from publishing FOI information until at least 10 days after the applicant has received his or her copy of the information; and require the reporting of external legal expenses for each Information Commission or AAT FOI matter that has concluded.
Status: Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee reported on 30 November 2018, currently before the Senate. The last debate was on 31 August 2020.

Identity-matching Services Bill 2019
Pursuant to the objectives of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services (IGA), agreed by COAG on 5 October 2017, the bill provides for the exchange of identity information between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments by enabling the Department of Home Affairs to collect, use and disclose identification information in order to operate the technical systems that will facilitate the identity-matching services envisaged by the IGA.
Status: Technically before the House of Representatives. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security reported on 24 October 2019, essentially recommending a complete rewrite. No action since.
Committee orders complete redrafting of Biometric Bills as privacy safeguards are deemed inadequate, 24 October 2019.

Intelligence and Security Legislation Amendment (Implementing Independent Intelligence Review) Bill 2020
Amends the: Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986 and Intelligence Services Act 2001 to expand the oversight role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to the Australian Federal Police, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Office of National Intelligence (ONI); Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010 and Intelligence Services Act 2001 to enable the PJCIS to request briefings and reports from the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor; and Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986 and Office of National Intelligence Act 2018 to require regular briefings to be given to the PJCIS by the IGIS and ONI.
Status: Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee reported on 9 December 2020, no further action since.

Intelligence Oversight and Other Legislation Amendment (Integrity Measures) Bill 2020
Amends: the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986 to: extend the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s (IGIS) jurisdiction to the intelligence functions of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC); streamline the IGIS’s reporting procedures; make technical amendments to clarify the operation of the Act, modernise drafting expressions and remove redundant provisions; and make amendments contingent on the commencement of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Act 2020; the Intelligence Services Act 2001 to extend the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s jurisdiction to the intelligence functions of AUSTRAC; 17 Acts to make consequential amendments; the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 and Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986 to make amendments contingent on the commencement of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020; and nine Acts to make amendments contingent on the commencement of the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Act 2020.
Status: Referred on 18 December 2020 to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for review. Submissions closed 12 February 2021, no action since.

Intelligence Services Amendment (Enhanced Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence Agencies) Bill 2018
Amends the Intelligence Services Act 2001 to expand the functions of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to include reviewing the activities of Australia’s national security and intelligence agencies, subject to certain exclusions.
Status: Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee reported on 12 November 2018. Added to Senate notice paper on 4 Jul 2019, no action since

Interactive Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Card Use) Bill 2020
Amends the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to: prevent interactive gambling service providers from accepting payments by credit card (either directly or indirectly); create a criminal offence and civil penalty provision for a person who accepts, facilitates or promotes credit card payments for interactive gambling services; and provide for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to enforce and review the new requirements.
Status: Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee reported on 8 October 2021, no further action since.

Ministers of State (Checks for Security Purposes) Bill 2019
Requires the Prime Minister to direct the Director-General of Security to provide a report on matters relating to security arising from examination of the personal background and circumstances of all current and future ministers of state.
Status: Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee reported on 11 November 2019, no further action since.

National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No. 1) Bill 2021
The Bill implements the Government response to a number of recommendations of the Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community (Comprehensive Review) led by Dennis Richardson AC.
Status: Introduced to the House of Representatives 25 Nov 2021, referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
Australia’s tangle of electronic surveillance laws needs unravelling, 19 January 2021.

Privacy (COVID Check-in Data) Bill 2021
This Bill will introduce a ban on using COVID-19 check-in data for enforcement related activity purposes by preventing Commonwealth, State or Territory authorities from using or providing COVID-19 check in data for law enforcement purposes.
Status: Before House of Representatives, last debate 25 October 2021.

Protecting Pensioners from the Cashless Debit Card Bill 2021
Amends the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to: provide that the cashless debit card regime sunsets on 31 January 2022; require the minister to prepare a local services and jobs plan in conjunction with communities where the cashless debit card regime is in operation; and require the minister to publish the full cost to the Commonwealth of the operation of the cashless debit card regime, all contracts between the Commonwealth and Indue Ltd and all documents relating to the Cashless Debit Card Technology Working Group.
Status: Introduced to the House of Representatives on 25 October 2021.

Ransomware Payments Bill 2021 (No. 2)
Establishes a mandatory requirement for Commonwealth, state or territory entities, corporations and partnerships to report to the Australian Cyber Security Centre ransomware payments paid in response to a ransomware attack.
Status: Currently before the Senate.
Labor tries the Senate after ransomware payments Bill flops in the House of Reps, 12 August 2021.

NEW Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022
This bill adds to the critical infrastructure risk management programs for critical infrastructure assets (proposed Part 2A of the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (the SOCI Act)); and enhanced cybersecurity obligations for those assets most important to the nation, described as systems of national significance (proposed Parts 2C and 6A of the SOCI Act).
Status: Introduced on 10 February 2022, now before the Senate.

NEW Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2022
The Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2022 (the Bill) creates a novel framework to allow Australians to respond to defamatory content posted on social media.
Status: Before the House of Representatives.
Anti-trolling bill about ‘defamation only’, Michaelia Cash’s department says, 1 February 2022.

Social Media (Basic Expectations and Defamation) Bill 2021
The intent of the Bill is to enable the Minister to set basic expectations of a social media service provider regarding the hosting of defamatory material on social media platforms, and secondly to ensure that service providers are liable for defamatory material hosted on their platforms that is not removed in a reasonable timeframe.
Status: Before the House of Representatives, last action 25 October 2021.

NEW Social Media (Protecting Australians from Censorship) Bill 2022
The bill prohibits large foreign social media services from de-platforming or censoring lawful content by Members of Parliament, election candidates, registered political parties, journalists and media organisations on their platforms within Australia. The bill also prohibits large foreign social media services from censoring lawful philosophical (including political) discourse on their platforms within Australia.
Status: Introduced by George Christensen MP on 14 February 2022, now before the House of Representatives.

Spam Amendment (Unsolicited Political Communications) Bill 2021
The purpose of the Bill is to provide consumers with more control over the receiving of unsolicited electronic and telephone communication from political parties by addressing exemptions to laws that otherwise prohibit or limit spam communication.
Status: Before the Senate, last action 20 October 2021.

Telecommunications Amendment (Repairing Assistance and Access) Bill 2019
Amends the Telecommunications Act 1997 to: clarify actions that designated communications providers must not be requested or required to do in technical assistance requests, technical assistance notices or technical capability notices; require the Australian Federal Police Commissioner not to approve technical assistance notices issued by the chief officer of state or territory interception agencies unless satisfied that the requirements of the notice are reasonable and proportionate, and compliance with the notice is practicable and technically feasible; remove the ability of the minister to edit and delete information in relevant reports prepared by the Commonwealth Ombudsman; and insert a judicial authorisation requirement in the approval or varying of technical assistance requests, technical assistance notices or technical capability notices.
Status: Currently before the Senate. Second reading debate was adjourned on 10 February 2020.
Home Affairs pushes back against encryption law proposals, 21 February 2020.

NEW Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Corrective Services Authorities) Bill 2022
Amends the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) to provide State and Territory corrective services authorities with the ability to access telecommunications data under the TIA Act.
Status: Before the House of Representatives.

NEW Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Faster Internet for Regional Australia) Bill 2022
This bill will move Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) performance benchmarks into primary legislation and establish new higher standards which SIPs must meet or face penalties. The new legislated standards include an average download speed of 25 megabits per second every 24-hour period nationwide, a maximum 1 day wait time for all fault rectifications requiring a technician in rural areas, a maximum 5 day wait time for all new connection in rural areas, and a number of other new standards enhancing internet speed, fault rectification and connection times across urban, regional, and remote Australia.
Status: Before the House of Representatives.

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Unsolicited Communications) Bill 2019
Amends the: Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to require that voice calls communicating an electoral matter to a person must identify the use of any actors at the beginning of the call; Do Not Call Register Act 2006 to enable consumers who register on the Do Not Call Register to opt out of receiving phone calls from charities; Spam Act 2003 to require political parties to provide an unsubscribe function for all unsolicited electronic communications containing political content; and Telecommunications Act 1997 to make consequential amendments.
Status: Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee reported on 17 April 2020. Currently before the Senate. Second reading debate was adjourned on 25 November 2019.

NEW Transport Security Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2022
The main purpose of the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 (the Aviation Act) and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 (the Maritime Act), is to establish a regulatory framework to safeguard against unlawful interference with aviation and maritime transport, and offshore facilities. The purpose of the Transport Security Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2022 is to amend the Aviation Act and the Maritime Act, to align these acts with the Australian Government’s commitment to protecting Australia’s critical infrastructure.
Status: Currently before the House of Representatives.

Current Parliamentary Inquiries

I’ve also chosen a few of the other parliamentary inquiries currently under way. I’ll just list these by title.

NEW Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America on Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime
Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
Status: Submissions close 18 March 2022.

PROGRESS REPORT Business case for the NBN and the experiences of small businesses
Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network
Status: The committee published a progress report on 31 March 2021 and was due to report by 30 June 2021, but hasn’t.

Constitution Alteration (Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press) 2019
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee
Status: Reporting date is now 31 March 2022.

REPORTED Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act 2019
Joint Committee on Law Enforcement
Status: Reported in December 2021.

REPORTED Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information Agreement (ENNPIA)
Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
Status: Reported December 2021.

Extremist movements and radicalism in Australia
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
Status: Due to report by April 2021, but there is no report.

INTERIM REPORT Foreign Interference through Social Media
Senate Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media
Status: Submissions closed 31 October 2021, due to report by the second sitting day of May 2022; First Interim Report released December 2021, due to report by May 2022.

REPORTED Media diversity in Australia
Senate Environment and Communications References Committee
Status: Reported 9 December 2021.

National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No. 1) Bill 2021
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
Status: Submissions closed 3 February 2022, public hearing to be held 25 February 2022.

National security risks affecting the Australian higher education and research sector
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
Status: Due to report by July 2021 but it hasn’t.

The planning, construction and management of the Western Sydney Airport project
Finance and Public Administration References Committee
The planning, construction and management of the Western Sydney Airport project.
Status: Due to report by report by 30 June 2022.

REPORTED Religious Discrimination Bill 2021; Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021 and Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 [Provisions]
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee
Status: Reported on 4 February 2022.

REPORTED Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
Status: Reported on 4 February 2022.

REPORTED Review of the amendments made by the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
Status: Reported in December 2021.

REPORTED Review of Part 14 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 – Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
Status: Reported in February 2022.
Australian telco sector looking down the barrel of a prescribed security standard, 21 May 2021)

NEW Review of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
The SLACIP Bill has been introduced to address the outstanding elements of the proposed framework that the PJCIS reported on in its Advisory report on the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020 and Statutory Review of the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018.
Status: Submissions close 1 March 2022.

NEW Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2022 [Provisions]
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee
Status: Submissions close 28 February 2022, due to report by 24 March 2022.

Social Media and Online Safety
House Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety
Status: Submissions deadline extended to 8 March 2022, due to report by 15 March 2022.

Departmental inquiries

Age Verification
eSafety Commissioner
On 1 June 2021, the Australian Government requested the eSafety Commissioner develop an implementation roadmap for a mandatory age verification (AV) regime relating to online pornography.
Status: Roadmap published, working groups to begin.

Digital Identity legislation phase 3 consultation
Digital Transformation Agency
On 1 October 2021, the Hon. Stuart Robert MP, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business released the exposure draft of the Trusted Digital Identity Bill and related legislative instruments for public consultation.
Status: Submissions closed 27 October 2021.

Draft copyright reform legislation
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
We are seeking submissions on an exposure draft of the Copyright Amendment (Access Reforms) Bill 2021 and on the technological protection measure exceptions in the Copyright Regulations 2017.
Status: Submissions deadline extended to 25 February 2022.

Draft Online Safety (Basic Online Safety Expectations) Determination 2021 consultation
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
The Online Safety Act 2021 was passed by Parliament on 23 June 2021 and comes into effect on 23 January 2022. We are now seeking feedback on an exposure draft of the Online Safety (Basic Online Safety Expectations) Determination 2021 that will set out the expectations the Government has for social media services, relevant electronic services and designated internet services.
Status: Submissions closed 12 Nov 2021.
Why Australia’s Online Safety Act is an abdication of responsibility, 12 August 2021.

Reform of Australia’s electronic surveillance framework discussion paper
Department of Home Affairs
The Australian Government has committed to reform Australia’s laws governing electronic surveillance. For more information see Electronic Surveillance Reform.
Status: Submissions closed 11 February 2022 and are available on the website. Exposure draft legislation is supposedly due “late 2022”.
Australia commences work on electronic surveillance law reforms, 6 December 2021.

Online Privacy Bill Exposure Draft
Attorney-General’s Department
The Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (the Online Privacy Bill) will give effect to the Australian Government’s commitment to strengthen the Privacy Act 1988. It enables the introduction of a binding online privacy code for social media and certain other online platforms, and increases penalties and enforcement measures.
Status: Submissions closed 6 December 2021.
Australian Online Privacy Bill to make social media age verification mandatory for tech giants, Reddit, Zoom, gaming platforms, 25 October 2021.

Privacy Act Review — Discussion Paper
Attorney-General’s Department
As part of our review of the Privacy Act 1988, this discussion paper considers feedback on the Issues Paper and seeks further feedback on potential changes to the Act.
Status: Submissions closed 10 January 2022. No schedule has been announced for legislation to be introduced to parliament.

Restricted Access System
eSafety Commissioner
Have your say on the Draft Restricted Access Systems Declaration 2021, which aims to limit the exposure of children and young people under 18 to pornography and other age-inappropriate online content.
Status: Submissions closed 23 November 2021. No schedule has been announced for legislation to be introduced to parliament.

Finally, here’s a few overview pieces I’ve written which will help bring you up to speed on this stuff.

[Photo: Parliament House, Canberra, photographed by Stilgherrian on 13 April 2018. The flag is at half-mast to mark the mark the passing of the Honourable Jocelyn Newman AO. Available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY).]