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Australia: Legislation to Enhance Cooperation Between National Security Agencies Passed

(Mar. 9, 2011) On March 2, 2011, the Australian Parliament passed a bill aimed at enabling Australian national security agencies, including the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIO), the Defence Signals Directorate, and the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation, “to more closely cooperate and assist one another in support of key national security priorities.” (Press Release, Hon. Robert McClelland, Passage of Legislation to Enhance National Security Cooperation (Mar. 2, 2011.)

The Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2011arose from the Australian government's National Security Statement and the Counter-Terrorism White Paper, both of which highlighted the need for a closer relationship between intelligence, law enforcement, and other national security agencies. (Id.)

The legislation amends the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 to “provide greater flexibility for ASIO to share information obtained in the performance of ASIO's functions with other Australian intelligence agencies and with the broader national security community.” (The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2010: Replacement Explanatory Memorandum, at 1, Parliament of Australia website, (last visited Mar. 7, 2011).) In addition, amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 mean that ASIO will be able to provide technical assistance and analytical advice to law enforcement agencies in relation to telecommunications interception warrants and other areas of expertise. (Press Release, supra.)

The bill also requires telecommunications carriers to provide information to the authorities on proposed changes to services, networks, systems, or devices that could “adversely affect the ability to conduct interception, or to comply with relevant requirements of the Telecommunications Act.” (Explanatory Memorandum, supra, at 10.)

Further information about the amendments, including the text of the bill and parliamentary speeches, is available at Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2011, Parliament of Australia website (last visited Mar. 7, 2011).