New law enables Australian enforcement authorities to compel companies covered by the statute to provide data, regardless of where the data is stored

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Act 2021, more specifically, establishes a framework that will allow Australian Government agencies to obtain “International Production Orders” (IPOs) issued directly to foreign prescribed communications providers, in respect of information stored overseas. This will be reciprocal; foreign authorities will also have the power to issue IPOs to Australian-based prescribed communication providers.

At present, no IPO can be issued until an international agreement is reached and signed between Australia and the foreign country. The United States is in the process of reaching such an agreement with Australia at the moment. However, once an international agreement is reached, either country can apply to an eligible judge or a member of the Australian Administrative Tribunal to have an IPO issued on the other. An IPO can only be issued for the purpose of:

  • investigating a serious offence;

  • Monitoring a person subject to a control order; or

  • Enabling the Australian Security Intelligence Organization to carry out its functions.

The Act affects carriers, carriage service providers, message/call application service providers, storage/back-up service providers and general electronic content service providers. Failure to comply when issued with an IPO can result in a fine of up to AUD 10 million for companies.

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