NSW Police signs new tech deal, backs International Protections Orders Bill

Signs with Mark43 and labels the pending telecommunications legislation amendment as 'overdue'.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The New South Wales Police Force has forged a new technology partnership with New York-based Mark43.

The partnership will see the force adopt the company's cloud-based records management software and its computer aided dispatch system, through Unisys Australia.

See also: NSW Police signs six-year biometric identification deal

"Mark43's records management system provides the most intuitive, quickest law enforcement report-writing experience possible, while Mark43 computer aided dispatch is the best-designed public safety dispatch platform available," Mark43 said of the deal.

"Mark43 is ready to broaden its international presence, and this is just the first step."

Mark43 boasts over 70 public safety agencies in North America as customers, including the Boston Police Department and the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Approximately 17,000 of the force's users will be using Mark43's technology.

The NSW Police Force has revealed that in 2018-2019, it used its powers under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) to arrest over 1,500 persons.

See also: Cops are getting full URLs under Australia's data retention scheme

The TIA Act facilitates the interception of telecommunications services, access to stored communications, and gives the force access to data stored by local carriers.

"The use of this regime cannot be understated as an effective covert evidence gathering technique used by the NSWPF for serious criminal investigations or other functions permitted by the TIA Act," the force wrote in a submission [PDF] to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).

"An example of the effectiveness of the regime from the period 2018 to 2019. Use of the legislation led to the arrest of 1,218 persons from interception and 383 persons derived from stored communications."

NSW Police anticipates the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020 to complement the local regime by allowing it to seek assistance from overseas service providers.

The Bill is intended to amend the TIA Act to create a framework for Australian agencies to gain access to stored telecommunications data from foreign designated communication providers in countries that have an agreement with Australia, and vice versa. It would also remove the ability for nominated Administrative Appeals Tribunal members to issue certain warrants.

The Bill is a precondition for Australia to obtain a proposed bilateral agreement with the United States, under the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act).

"Increasingly, people who reside in Australia use telecommunications related applications or products which are subscribed and maintained overseas," the force continued.

"NSWPF considers the timely acquisition of critical data and resultant investigative opportunities from the introduction of the IPO Bill will be to the benefit and protection of the community."

Currently, requests for telecommunications data from companies in other countries are processed by local law enforcement through section 178 of the TIA Act.

The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is the main vehicle to acquire information for investigations from overseas.

"Requests take months or even years before they are answered, which has led to prosecutions being dropped," NSW Police said. "A more efficient process is overdue."

In its own submission [PDF], the Police Federation of Australia (PFA), which represents over 64,000 Australian police officers across all states and territories and the Australian Federal Police, said it has been a "long-time supporter of legislation that will better enhance their members' ability to prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute the perpetrators of serious crimes".

"This particular piece of legislation, we believe, will support our members in the investigation of crimes such as counter terrorism and child sexual abuse and assist them in targeting other serious and organised crime," it told the PJCIS.


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