TV interview – Channel 7, Sunrise
Subject: Optus, National Anti-Corruption Commission.
HOST: Following the company's massive data breach the possibility of new Medicare dollars is also on the table. While states are setting up systems to replace compromised driver's licenses, the Prime Minister has now called for better laws to manage data collection. Let's go to our chief law maker Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. Attorney-General, if you could sum up this whole saga and Optus's response in one word, what would it be?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: It's been a mess Kochie. Australians are very worried rightly. More than more than 9 million almost 10 million Optus customers, past and present, have had their data breached. We've been working with Optus, but we've been working with everyone else, the banks, financial institutions to keep that data as safe as we can and to repair from the breach.
HOST: As I say you are the chief law maker. Is this a case that our laws have not kept up with technology? What do you need to bring in to make sure our data is safe in the future?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We need everybody who has Australian's data to take care of it. We need to make sure that when there is a hack or data breach, that they immediately notify people that have been affected and notify financial institutions and banks and government so that we can take action and that banks and financial institutions can take action to keep people safe from the effects of the hack. So the laws haven't kept pace. The Prime Minister talked about this yesterday in the Parliament. We're going to make sure that our laws are brought up to date and work to protect Australians.
HOST: Can you do it quickly as well? Because we're all a bit spooked by this. Do we need laws to restrict the amount of data that companies can ask us for because we just automatically hand over a driver's license to be copied for a rental car, if someone wants a passport or we need a new mobile phone- we just put it in shouldn't we not be asked for that?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We understand why companies need to be able to identify people who are opening new accounts or someone that's getting a new phone number and the company needs to know who they are. That's why we have this identification process but we then need to think about do these companies need to keep this data? And if they need to keep it they've got to keep it safe. And that's what's happened here - it wasn't kept safe.
HOST: Okay. All right. So those are those laws are coming pretty quickly. Now. Just while we've got you you're introducing a new bill today to introduce an anti-corruption department or federal ICAC and what powers will it have? And when could it be up and running? Most states have them don't they? But not federal?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Kochie, every state and territory has got an anti-corruption commission. We promised Australians integrity at the last election and I'm very proud that yesterday we brought a bill to establish a national anti-corruption commission to the Parliament. It's going to be up and running we hope by the around the middle of next year. And it's going to have, to answer your question, all the powers of a Royal Commission. It's going to be able to work on stamping out corruption wherever it occurs in our Federal Government.
HOST: Okay, so similar to what the states have got in place but covering Federal Government. Mark Dreyfus, thank you for joining us. Can you keep check back in with us when those new bills come through and your new proposals to protect our data? We really want to follow this story.