Australia's politicians, industry unite to promote tech in law-making

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Australia's politicians, industry unite to promote tech in law-making

Internet Australia leads charge to highlight IT implications.

A group of cross-party MPs have come together as part of a new initiative led by Internet Australia to promote consideration of the internet and technology in the country's law-making efforts.

The bipartisan Parliamentary Friends of the Internet group was last night launched by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare, and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

The group also boasts Liberal MPs Wyatt Roy and Jane Prentice, plus Labor MPs Terri Butler, Tim Watts, Andrew Lee and Jenny McAlister as members.

Membership is open to all MPs and senators, Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton said.

The group's goal is to encourage informed debate between MPs, industry and consumers on internet and technology-related implications of proposed legislation.

In recent times, the parliament has faced criticism from industry and privacy groups for introducing new laws like data retention, piracy site blocking, the collection of biometric data on travellers and the proposed telco sector security reforms without fully considering their technological implications.

"Any laws that affect the public's confidence in the internet need to be carefully drafted and continuously reviewed," Patton said in a statement.

"We also need to be aware of the risks of unintended consequences that affect the way the internet functions".

The PFI will facilitate a mix of face-to-face meetings as well as online engagements. Patton said the group would bring various experts to Canberra to lead meetings and provide reports and other information online.

He said the group would identify a range of issues of interest to MPs - such as internet security, digital inclusion and innovation and start-ups - to help them "better understand the impact of the internet-related laws they are asked to consider".

"To secure an agreed bipartisan path to our digitally enabled future we need to get our politicians to understand the potential that exists to be tapped through the internet. PFI is the first step in this process," Patton said.

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