From AI regulation in Australia to changing laws, we bring you a collation of key updates for January 2024.
What lawyers should know about AI regulation in Australia
Australia is witnessing rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), yet lacks a specific regulatory framework dedicated to governing its use. Existing regulations, encompassing consumer, data protection, competition, copyright, and anti-discrimination laws, currently oversee AI. The government encourages the use of voluntary ethical frameworks. However, the momentum is building for the introduction of targeted regulations and governance in 2024 to address expanding risks associated with AI.
Signs pointing towards forthcoming AI regulation in Australia include proposed amendments to the Privacy Act, the launch of AI Month by the National AI Center, industry pressure on the government, and the release of a discussion paper on ‘Safe and responsible AI in Australia.’ International developments, such as the proposed EU AI Act and the Bletchley Declaration, highlight the global commitment to ensuring AI’s safe and responsible use. The Australian government, has allocated funds in the budget to strengthen the Responsible AI Network and AI Adopt Program.
Australia released AI ethics principles in 2019, emphasising trustworthy and inclusive AI use. The government launched the Artificial Intelligence in Government Taskforce to guide the safe use of AI in the public service. Concerns about emerging AI harms in Australia include privacy, algorithmic discrimination, automation bias, and misinformation. This prompt calls for specific legislation and the appointment of an AI Commissioner. As AI continues to evolve, organisations are encouraged to adopt AI governance frameworks to navigate the future regulatory landscape responsibly.
From Medicare to preschool: the Australian laws changing in the new year
Several changes are set to take effect in Australia from January 1, 2024. Over 930,000 Australians will experience a $20 per week increase, equivalent to a 6% rise, in their Centrelink payments. Youth allowance and Austudy payments are also set to increase, ranging from $19.10 to $41.40 a fortnight. Additionally, the disability support pension for individuals aged 21 and under without children will see payments rise between $27.40 and $40.70 a fortnight. Various other payments, including Abstudy, isolated children assistance, mobility allowance, carer allowance, and pharmaceutical allowance, will also increase.
Medicare safety net thresholds will rise, affecting the amount individuals need to spend on out-of-hospital medical expenses before qualifying for a higher rebate. The ban on the importation of disposable vapes containing nicotine will take effect, described as the “toughest laws” globally. The “50% pass rule” at universities will end, replaced by a “support for students” policy. Working seniors and veterans will see an increase in the Work Bonus limit by $4,000, and toll relief will be provided in New South Wales for those spending over $60 a week on tolls. Additionally, changes include the end of EV rebates in NSW and SA, a ban on gas connections in new homes in Victoria, increased land tax in Victoria, a ban on mobile phones in public high schools in South Australia, and free preschool in Queensland’s kindergarten.
Action to help ensure AI is safe and responsible
In a recent announcement, the Australian Government is taking steps to ensure the safe use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Responding to the Safe and Responsible AI in Australia consultation, the government is considering mandatory guardrails for AI in high-risk settings. Immediate actions include collaboration with industry to establish a voluntary AI Safety Standard and exploring options for voluntary labelling and watermarking of AI-generated materials. These measures aim to enhance transparency, testing, and accountability in AI systems. Australia is also monitoring global responses to AI challenges and engaging with international efforts in this domain.
Victoria’s court system hit by a cyber incident
Court Services Victoria (CSV) CEO, Louise Anderson, issued a statement on January 2, 2024, acknowledging a cybersecurity incident affecting Victoria’s courts. The incident involved potential unauthorised access to audio-visual recordings of court hearings between November 1 and December 21, 2023.
The affected network, managing only audio-visual recordings for all courts, was isolated and disabled when the issue was identified. The investigation primarily focused on the period from November 1 to December 21, with some courts retaining recordings for approximately 28 days. The incident has not impacted all courts, and CSV extends sincere apologies for any distress caused, committing to support affected individuals.
About Law Image: Law Image is a leading document management company. Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Melbourne, we have offices in Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth. Law Image supports law firms and government departments across Australia with end-to-end legal document management solutions.
For Marketing & Branding enquiries, contact:
Siddhi Chavan (email@example.com)