Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 provides Australian government agencies (including state government agencies) with the ability to obtain assistance from the telecommunications industry when upholding Australian laws. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) administers the Access Limitation Scheme which uses section 313 to block domains (websites) which contain the most severe child sexual abuse and exploitation material using the INTERPOL 'Worst of ' child abuse list. When a user seeks to access one of these sites, they are provided a block page that provides certain information, including reasons for the block, and contact details for any dispute about inclusion of the listing on the INTERPOL list. Other Commonwealth agencies have also in the past used section 313 to prevent the continuing operation of online services in breach or potentially in breach of Australian law (e.g. sites seeking to perpetrate financial fraud).
How law enforcement agencies use section 313 to request the disruption of such services is an important public policy question. Section 313 is also used for other purposes, but the Committee will inquire solely into and report on government agency use of section 313 for the purpose of disrupting illegal online services.
The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Friday 22 August 2014. Online submissions can be made on this page.
For information on how to make a submission, go to our Making a submission to a Committee Inquiry page.
A final report is to be provided by 1 July 2015.