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On 20 November 2023, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner (“eSafety”) released drafts of two new industry standards under the Online Safety Act 2021 (Cth) (OSA) for public consultation.
The Standards cover providers of:
• Relevant electronic services, which cover a wide category of services that allow end-users to communicate online (including email, SMS, MMS, chat, instant messaging, various online games and dating services).
• Designated internet services, which cover a broad range of websites and apps not otherwise captured by the RES Standard or the industry codes that have been registered by eSafety under the OSA.

ASIC Corporations and Credit (Amendment) Instrument 2023/589 was registered on 17 October 2023 to amend ASIC Corporations and Credit (Breach Reporting – Reportable Situations) Instrument 2021/716. The amendments modify the current reportable situations regime applicable to Australian financial services licensees and Australian credit licensees and apply from 20 October 2023.

The Government has released exposure draft legislation to update the Payments Systems (Regulation) Act 1998 (PSRA). This follows consultation conducted in June 2023 to “modernize” the application of the PSRA and to ensure the framework appropriately regulates emerging and future payment functions.

The Australian Government has released its much-anticipated response to the Commonwealth Attorney-General Department’s report on its review of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). The Report recommended wholesale amendments to Australia’s principal privacy legislation and contained 116 proposals for consideration by the government.

Australian business communications have been modernized with effect from 15 September 2023 by amendments to the Corporations Act which allow all documents under the Act to be signed electronically and most documents to be sent electronically. This is a welcome development building upon gradual progress in this area since mid 2020.
The laws for electronic execution of documents by companies, settled in early 2022, are not changing.

The Final Report of the Independent Review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW) (Biodiversity Act) dated August 2023 (Report) was tabled in the NSW Parliament on 24 August 2023.
The Report is critical of the credibility of the Biodiversity Act and the offsets secured under that Act’s regime, and disapproving of the status and trajectory of biodiversity in NSW. The Report recommends a refocusing of the Biodiversity Act towards a nature positive strategy with improved protections for ecosystems.

On 22 July 2023, the Competition and Consumer (Consumer Data Right) Amendment Rules (No. 1) 2023commenced. The amending rules enhance the existing Consumer Data Right (CDR) regime for business consumers by improving access to and use of CDR data for businesses and enabling more participants in the CDR regime to use third-party service providers.

For the fourth time since its inception in September 2016, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has extended the transitional relief period for Foreign Financial Services Providers (FFSPs) for a further 12 months until 31 March 2025. In its introduction of the ASIC Corporations (Amendment) Instrument 2023/588 on 4 August 2023, FFSPs have been offered a further extension on relief from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services license when providing certain financial services.

A recent High Court decision and the re-introduction of proposed legislation to Parliament which will make it easier to prosecute bribery of foreign officials, both emphasize the importance of companies having adequate procedures in place to ensure that their employees and agents are not engaging in conduct which could expose the company to significant fines.