The recently released 2019-20 Telecommunications (Inception and Access) Act annual report shows that the controversial encryption-breaking laws introduced in the Assistance and Access Act in 2018 were used 11 times by law enforcement agencies in their first full-year of operation.
According to the report, 11 technical assistance requests (TARs) were issued between July 2019 and June 2020, slightly up on the seven TARs issued between July 2018 and June 2019.
The report shows that the powers were used primarily for illicit drug and robbery offences, while the Federal Police used its one request in a cybercrime investigation.
None of the agencies used the powers for terrorism-related offences in spite of this being the primary rationale behind the Federal Government rushing the laws through in 2018.
In 2018 when the Bill became law, IT Professionals Australia called on the Government to consult more widely and take the concerns about the intrusive and covert law enforcement powers raised in the Consultation – concerns that remain widely-held by tech stakeholders – more seriously into account. Read about our concerns here.