The legislation will improve the arrangements for telecommunications carriers and carriage service providers to assist law enforcement agencies. The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) will now take into account possible security concerns before granting a carrier licence.
Under the legislation, the Attorney-General, in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, is allowed to direct the ACA to refuse a carrier licence and to direct a carrier or carriage service provider not to use or provide a service on security grounds.
Discretionary power is provided to the Attorney-General to prevent the carrier or carriage services from being used for purposes against the national interest.
Williams assures that the bill will balance the need to protect an individual's privacy and confidentiality and the national interest. The Attorney-General's new powers can only be used to address potential security risks related to the Australian telecommunications industry and not the risks that may be posed by individual users of the telecommunications system.