Unintended Consequences and Australia’s Assistance and Access Act 2018 – Is Australia Creating a Technology Based Human Rights Problem?

Melanie Hutchinson, Legal Counsel, Telstra Corporation, Australia

The Australian Parliament recently passed, and is in the process of subsequently debating the passage of legislation that appears to erode certain human rights, including the right to privacy. The most recent being the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 (the Assistance and Access Act). The passage of this legislation heralds significant potential for unintended consequences. Further, it is not just the impact of this piece of legislation alone, but of the overarching context in which it resides, that creates the potential for a profound impact on human rights. Digital technology has evolved to provide individuals, governments and corporations with unprecedented connectivity in their everyday lives. This paper examines the Assistance and Access Act, the context within which it sits, and potential unintended consequences.

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Australia Human Rights Telecommunications June 2019 Vol.12, No. 47, Spring 2019

Melanie Hutchinson

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Melanie currently works in house at Telstra Corporation and is an innovative senior legal professional with an extensive commercial and Government background. She has many years’ experience working in the Private Sector and for the Australian Government with a proven a track record in providing strategic legal, risk and compliance advice with a strong focus on commercial, government and ICT matters. Melanie has a passion for technology and in particular, data and cyber security matters. She is a Telstra "Cyber Security Evangelist” and an avid supporter of embracing new and emerging technologies and utilising tools and knowledge to protect data generated by those technologies.

Telstra Corporation

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Telstra is Australia’s leading telecommunications and technology company, offering a full range of communications services and competing in all telecommunications markets. In Australia Telstra provides 17.7 million retail mobile services, 4.9 million retail fixed voice services and 3.6 million retail fixed broadband services. Telstra has an international presence spanning over 20 countries. As Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company, Telstra is proud to help its customers improve the ways in which they live and work through a connected world.

Australia Human Rights Telecommunications June 2019 Vol.12, No. 47, Spring 2019