While the NSW election results and the Indigenous Voice to Parliament dominated the political news this week, there was plenty of action in the background. Cybersecurity, secrecy and freedom of information, censorship, esafety, online gambling, and more.
Here are the digital developments from Canberra I’ve noticed since the previous edition on 24 March.
- The National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No. 2) Bill 2023 is the second tranche of legislation following the Richardson review. There’s quite a bit to read, and I haven’t done so yet. In fact I’ve read none of this stuff.
- The bill has of course been referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) for review. Submissions close 6 April.
- The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2023 is before the House of Representatives. This bill is intended to “implement a consistent approach to issuing, maintaining and revoking Australia’s highest-level security clearances that ensures Australia’s most sensitive information, capability and secrets remain protected”. The guts of it is that ASIO will take over all positive vetting activities, with better appeals processes.
- This bill is also off to a PJCIS review. Submissions close 21 April.
- A remarkable headline from the Guardian: Pirate porn and candle wax: review of Australian film classification recommends end to ban on fetishes. Note that the report itself (PDF) is dated May 2020. Yes, the Morrison government just sat on it.
- The Digital Assets (Market Regulation) Bill 2023 was introduced in the Senate and “addresses the need to regulate central bank digital currencies in Australia”.
- The Online Safety Amendment (Breaking Online Notoriety) Bill 2023 aims to “empower the e-Safety Commissioner to explicitly handle online content of criminal activity material in a similar way to how cyber-bullying and cyber-abuse material is treated”, where such material is posted to gain notoriety.
- The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit Card Ban and Acknowledgement of Losses) Bill 2023 “aims to lessen problematic online gambling among Australians by: banning the use of credit cards for online gambling using regulated interactive gambling services, and requiring a person to expressly acknowledge their losses during the current financial year before being permitted to participate in licensed interactive wagering services”. It was introduced to the Reps by Rebekha Sharkie of the Centre Alliance party, so I expect it to go nowhere.
- The Senate is running an inquiry into the Criminal Code Amendment (Prohibition of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2023. Submissions close 18 April.
- There’s also an inquiry into the operation of Commonwealth Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, including “the resignation of the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Commissioner and the resulting impacts”.
- On a related note, a discussion paper (PDF) from the Attorney-General’s Department reveals that more than 800 secrecy laws are keeping Australian government information from the public.
- And there’s also an inquiry into “assessment and support services for people with ADHD”. Submissions close 9 June.
- “Home Affairs has told the Australian National Audit Office the technology it relies on to process visa applications is not up to scratch,” reports The Mandarin.
- Also from The Mandarin, “Home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo has moved swiftly to recast the upper echelons and regulatory machinery of his expansive agency in the wake of the recent Optus and Medibank ransomware attacks, revealing a Cyber and Infrastructure Security Group (CISG) will be established from May 1″.
- Meanwhile, The Department of Defence can’t attract and retain enough cybersecurity workers.
- Julian Bajkowski reports an innovation with a gloriously snarky headline, Lonely digital Medicare card slips into myGov wallet, seeks friends and transactions.
- And finally, from InnovationAus, “Australia’s eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant will take delivery on Friday [today] of the final drafts of the online safety codes that have been under development by local tech industry associations. But it is far from clear whether the re-written drafts will be accepted.” Stay tuned.
Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if there’s any specific items you’d like me to follow. Parliament is now on a break until Tuesday 9 May, which will be Budget Night. I’ll post these whenever there’s enough to report.
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[Photo: Australia’s cybersecurity minister Clare O’Neil.]