Australia: IT Legal Environment
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Australia's economic well-being depends on capturing and securing the benefits of increased innovation and creativity. If Australia wishes to further promote ICT business it must protect these businesses underlining asset, their intellectual property. The Commonwealth has, and is continuing, to take steps to ensure these assets are protected. The basic framework of copyrights, patents, and trademarks are similar to those of countries such as Great Britian, The United States, and Canada.
Australia Intellectual Property:
The Australian Government has taken a proactive approach regarding the protection Intellectual Property by allocating public resources for enforcement. The Information and Security Law Division (ISLD) of the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department provides advice on information issues including those emerging from the Global Information Infrastructure. The Division also provides policy and legal advice on privacy, information access, parliamentary privilege, intellectual property, electronic commerce and national security matters. The work of ISLD aims to contribute to the development of a national and international framework to facilitate a secure global information infrastructure. The Division provides legal and policy advice to Ministers and other clients as well as participating in relevant international forums in the areas of information, electronic commerce, copyright and security law .
The Information and Security Law Division is divided into four branches:
Information Law Branch
Copyright Law Branch
Security Law Branch
Critical Infratructure Protection
In addition to the ISLD, the Intellectual Property (IP) Branch within the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts has responsibility for a diverse range of intellectual property matters, and shares responsibility for copyright policy with the Attorney-General's Department. The Commonwealth IT IP Guidelines-Management and Commercialisation of Commonwealth Intellectual Property in the field of Information Technology, provides assistance to Commonwealth Government agencies in management and licensing options for information technology-related intellectual property (IP) generated under Government contracts. The guidelines were launched in February 2001 and build on the Innovation Action Plan, Backing Australia's' Ability , in encouraging commercialisation and exploitation of the nation's intellectual property assets. The guidelines also recognise that strategic management of Commonwealth IP can act as a driver for industry development by encouraging innovation and development of new technologies .
With regards to software piracy, Australia had a 2001 piracy rate of 27% down from 33% the prior year; only New Zealand had a lower rate of 26% in the Asia Pacific region typically known for the highest piracy rates in the world .
Online security issues are a priority for both Government and business. A joint
government/industry body, the National Electronic Authentication Council,
promotes development and awareness of authentication technologies. Federal
legislation dealing with computer hacking is being overhauled. The Australian
Federal Police have substantially increased their investigatory capabilities for
NOIE is working with the National Electronic Authentication Council (NEAC) to build industry and consumer confidence in the use of digital certificates, public key infrastructures and other authentication technologies. These technologies are seen as key enablers for secure electronic commerce transactions (both business to business and business to consumer transactions).
The Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) legislation is an integral component in the Government’s strategy to develop a legal framework that encourages online activity and promotes the growth of the information economy. The reforms provide the copyright framework to successfully take our communications, information technology, research and development, education and arts sectors into the 21st century. This Government is committed to maintaining the balance between copyright owners and users so that the new economy will encourage research, innovation and the production of new material .
The Australian Government supports the Australian Internet industry’s intention to self-regulate .au domain administration—including the industry-based non-profit company, auDA. More information on auDA, including initiatives in the areas of names policy and competition is available at www.auda.org.au.
The effective administration of the domain space is important to the development of e-commerce in Australia and the world. NOIE is playing a key role in helping reform the administration of the domain name system world-wide.
The registry for .com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, gov.au and id.au is
AusRegistry. AusRegistry also
operates a free online search facility that you can use to find out whether a
.au name is available, and if not, details of who registered it.
The registry for .edu.au names is AUNIC (Australian Network Information Centre).
The Australian Government hosted the first ever international cybersquatting
workshop this year. With representation from over 17 countries and the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the forum resolved to investigate the
possibility of an internationally co-ordinated response to cybersquatting. WIPO
is now considering Australia’s motion to develop guidelines and policies to
Australia heads up the Governmental Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers—set to become the peak body for the technical management of the global domain name system .
The Australian Federal Attorney-General has introduced the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill into the House of Representatives. The legislation supports and strengthens self-regulation in the private sector, to protect the privacy of personal information. It introduces National Privacy Principles for the collection, storage and disclosure of such information. These will apply to information in both electronic and other forms. Legal safeguards already exist in the government sector. The legislation is yet to pass through the Parliament.
Since the late 1980’s the Australian Government has again taken great preemptive percaustions concerning the privacy of personal information. The Commonwealth government's privacy legislation is administered by the Information Law Branch of the Information and Security Law Division of the Attorney-General's Department. The federal Privacy Act 1988 is the principal piece of legislation providing protection of personal information in the federal public sector and in the private sector. It also establishes the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner. The Privacy Act provides eleven Information Privacy Principles for the federal public sector and ten National Privacy Principles for private sector organisations. These Privacy Principles deal with all stages of the processing of personal information, setting out standards for the collection, use, disclosure, quality and security of personal information. They also create requirements of access to, and correction of, such information by the individuals concerned. For a detailed extract of these principles visit: Principles Link.