New guidelines released for government agencies regarding lawful disruption of illegal online activities
17 July 2017
Government has released guidelines on the use of section 313(3) of the
Telecommunications Act 1997, which enables Government agencies to seek the
assistance of internet service providers to disrupt websites linked to unlawful
longstanding provision allows government agencies, with the assistance of
internet service providers, to disrupt websites in order to enforce criminal
law, safeguard national security and protect the public revenue.
guidelines have been developed to provide clear and transparent advice on the appropriate
application of section 313(3) for the disruption of online services.
The guidelines were
developed in response to the ‘Balancing Freedom
and Protection’ report
by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and
Communications, and were developed in consultation with Government agencies and
The Balancing Freedom and Protection report noted
that a small number of agencies have used section 313 to seek to block access
to certain websites on a limited basis. Specifically, the Australian Federal
Police have used the provision to disrupt access to domains on the INTERPOL ‘worst
of’ list of child exploitation material. The Australian Securities and
Investments Commission has used it to disrupt access to websites engaged in
financial fraud, and agencies have also used section 313(3) to disrupt access
to services on counter-terrorism grounds.
As a transparency
measure, under the guidelines Government agencies’ use of Section 313(3) will
be included in the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) annual
thanks those who participated in the consultation process and provided feedback
on the draft guidelines.
information on the reporting requirements and online reporting templates for
agencies can be accessed on the ACMA website: www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/reporting-template-for-commonwealth-agencies
whole-of-government guidelines are available at: www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/guidelines-lawful-disruption-access-online-services