In the final week of parliament for 2023 all manner of new laws were passed, reports tabled, and consultations launched. Digital ID, freedom of information, Centrelink, online gambling, and the demise of cheques.
Here’s what I’ve noticed since the previous edition on 1 December.
- The Identity Verification Services Bill 2023 and its friend the Identity Verification Services (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2023 are now law.
- Australia’s surveillance laws: let’s hear from those at the pointy end before the spies, reports the Guardian. “ANU academic Jake Blight, who [began] as national security legislation monitor on Monday, says he is interested to hear from groups affected by secrecy provisions.”
- We have the final report of the inquiry into there operation of Commonwealth Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. As The Conversation writes, Frank and far-reaching: Senate report recommends shake-up of the way freedom of information is handled.
- We also have the final report from the inquiry into the worsening rental crisis in Australia, which isn’t a cyber thing but of wide interest.
- Centrelink may have to junk 100,000 debts, says the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Here’s the full report from that office, Accountability in Action: identifying, owning and fixing errors (PDF).
- Two people were jailed for welfare debts that Centrelink may have calculated unlawfully.
- We finally have the government response to the ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry, which was completed more than a year ago (PDF).
- The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Consumer Safeguards and Other Measures) Bill 2023 was introduced. It’s all about providing “greater certainty for industry and consumers about how they can access the essential broadband and voice services that underpin modern economic and social activity,” so regulating the bare-minimum standard expected to be available everywhere.
- The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023 was passed, banning “the use of credit cards, credit-related products and digital currency as payment methods for interactive wagering services”.
- Also passed was the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Prohibited Hate Symbols and Other Measures) Bill 2023, so no more swastikas for you, Brian!
- Treasury has launched a consultation titled Payments System Modernisation (Regulation of Payment Service Providers), Submissions close 2 February 2024.
- There’s also a consultation on Winding down Australia’s cheques system, which also closes 2 February.
- “The Australian Government’s Responsible Artificial Intelligence Adopt Program will provide $17 million to establish up to five AI Adopt centres across Australia.”
- “The Albanese Government is establishing a copyright and artificial intelligence (AI) reference group to better prepare for future copyright challenges emerging from AI.”
- “The head of Australia’s intelligence community has lit a fire under the feet of the Australian Public Service’s persistent difficulty and slowness around the pace of new technology adoption and procurement, warning that spy agencies and government now risk potential failure unless chronic risk aversion for disruptive new tools is tempered,” reports The Mandarin.
- And from that same event, via InnovationAus, “The Top Secret cloud being built for Australia’s intelligence agencies will put a premium on sharing ‘vast amounts of data’ and providing access to counterparts in the US and UK, according to Australia’s top intelligence advisor, who this week gave a rare update on the project.”
- The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) needs a digital transformation strategy and roadmap, reports iTnews.
- Also at iTnews, “The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has had four data breaches of its own in the past two years, as well as being caught up in a fifth incident.”
- We have the final report of the inquiry into law enforcement capabilities in relation to child exploitation.
Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if there’s any specific items you’d like me to follow.
Unless something dramatic happens, parliament has now finished sitting for 2023 and will return on Tuesday 6 February 2024.
[Photo: Australia’s attorney-general Mark Dreyfus KC.]