Mrs Jane Prentice MP, Chairman of the Infrastructure and Communications Committee, discusses the current inquiry into the use of subsection 313(3) of the Telecommunications Act 1997 by government agencies to disrupt the operation of illegal online services.
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. Commonwealth agencies have used section 313 to prevent the continuing operation of online services in breach of Australian law (e.g. sites seeking to perpetrate financial fraud). The Australian Federal Police 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.
How government 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 tabled its report on 1 June 2015.