Proposed federal cyber laws, if passed, would pose ‘significant risks’ around the rule of law doctrine and the separation of powers, says Law Council of Australia president, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC.
The legal advocacy group says the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 will ‘fundamentally alter Australia’s criminal intelligence framework, and potentially reach into and disrupt the lives of innocent bystanders’.
Dr Brasch says, ‘In its current form, one of the warrants in the bill would enable the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and/or the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to disrupt data that may be used in criminal activity, with a maximum penalty of three or more years’ imprisonment’.
‘An example of which may include enabling the disruption of entire computer networks, such as those used by people to organise activities or protests relating to pandemic lockdowns and which may breach public health directions’.
‘These warrants can also be accompanied by compulsory assistance orders, which can require any person to provide information or assistance to the AFP or ACIC, with a potential penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for non-compliance.
‘This is in direct conflict with a key recommendation of the Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community (Richardson Review) released last year, which recommended that law enforcement agencies should not be given the specific cyber-disruption powers as proposed by this bill.
‘The Law Council is concerned that a lack of evidence has been provided to show why the AFP and the ACIC require these powers’.