Oz Govt calls for more talk on telco network security laws

We've listened, says Attorney-General, but we still want network plans


Australia's Attorney-General's Department has again called for industry consultation on its sweeping security overhaul of the telecommunications sector that would force telcos provide the Federal Government with confidential networks plans.

A draft for the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill was released 26 June and ruffled industry feathers over the lack of warning telcos would receive prior to Government demanding information and the associated costs of compliance.

Telcos are also angry over what they say is the impractical requirement to send the Government information on planned network changes in advance or risk being slapped with a $250,000 fine. Doubly so given that most are considering software-defined networks.

The industry prefers a non-regulated collaborative approach.

Information sharing is a perennial global and cross-industry problem for governments who fail to allay a sector fearful of sharing competitive security data with the state.

The department says in a statement it has listened to the telco sector's feedback.

"Today, the Government announces a further round of consultation on the networks which will introduce a framework to better manage national security risks of unauthorised interference and access to telecommunications networks," it says.

"A number of changes to improve the operation of the proposed legislation have been implemented, including safeguards on the use of the proposed regulatory powers and clarification of the intended scope and application of requirements to be imposed on telecommunications providers.

"The Bill now provides greater safeguards for industry while still meeting the core objective of better protection of telecommunications networks from espionage, sabotage and disruption activity." The Government will release a revised explanatory memorandum that details the changes.

Submissions close on 18 January.

New Zealand passed similar laws in 2013 that gave its Government access to telco network design data. ®

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