The Government is planning to launch an overhaul of the Industrial Security Service, which is the largest private-sector company in Australia, in early 2018.
The new service will allow for greater access to the information it collects about Australia’s companies and the companies themselves, and will make it easier for companies to share their data with regulators and other authorities, and better protect intellectual property.
ISDS has long been criticised for the way it uses data and intellectual property, and the way that it handles it.
Under the new regime, companies will have to notify the Australian Government and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) of any breaches of its data protection laws and rules, as well as the date of the breach.
It will also have to provide any evidence it provides to the authorities.
The changes, which will be announced at a special parliamentary committee hearing in Canberra on Monday, are being brought forward after Labor called for the ISDS reforms to be made public last year.
The Government said it had taken action to protect intellectual rights from misuse, and had introduced measures to protect whistleblowers and to require that companies provide the Australian Taxation Office with information about employees, including their wages, salaries and benefits.
“The Government has strengthened its anti-money laundering regime and strengthened the ability of ISDS tribunals to hold companies to account for their dealings,” Treasury spokesperson Ian Chubb said.
“This reform will provide certainty to the businesses and consumers of Australia who rely on ISDS to protect their rights and privacy.”
Under this reform, businesses will have greater transparency to understand their dealings with ISDS entities and the information they are required to disclose, and businesses will be able to apply for a decision to dismiss a claim.
“Businesses can now use the information to make informed decisions about their businesses and will be afforded greater protection for their interests than before.”
The Government has already made significant changes to the ISD’s processes, and it is expected to introduce more sweeping changes later this year.
The Government also wants to modernise the way in which it is able to enforce intellectual property rights and give ISDS the ability to take more action to defend intellectual property in the event of a dispute.
“We’ve also introduced some new measures to better protect Australian consumers and businesses, and ensure that Australians are not left exposed to unnecessary risks from overseas competitors,” Chubb added.
Labor MP Scott Ludlam has welcomed the announcement, calling it a “significant step forward for the rights of Australians”.
Labor will be pushing for the changes to be published in the Federal Budget.
“There are many more steps that the Government has to take before we can get the changes that we need done to protect Australian businesses and Australians, and that is why we are calling for these changes to become public on the day of the budget,” he said.