Gatenby Lawyers’ discuss clubhouse laws

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Encryption Laws – What does it mean for me?

In December of 2018, the Australian Government passed new laws that put our cyber security and privacy at risk. The Government self-admittedly rushed approval of the law, without concern to the negative impacts it may have on Australians and the world of cyber security.

Importantly, the law itself is vague in parts and there is no current oversight or supervision against potential abuse of the new powers.

What is encryption and why is it important?

Encryption is the scrambling of messages and information so that it can not be read other than by someone with the correct decryption key. In modern messaging platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber etc) the encryption is end-to-end. This means that the only people with the correct decryption key are the intended parties of the messages.

If Joe Blob sends a message to Laura Smith, only Joe and Laura can read that message; Facebook, or whichever messaging platform they use, would be unable to see the unencrypted message. This allows for each party to maintain their privacy.

So how can the Government read my messages?

Government agencies have previously told the public that 90% of communications they intercept are encrypted and unable to be read. The recently passed legislation intends to counter this by gaining access to communications that aren’t in their encrypted stage: before or after encryption.

Agencies wanting to read messages before they are encrypted can be likened to having somebody else (Government) looking over your shoulder as you write a letter, before you put the letter away in a ‘secure’ envelope.

Their other method relies on communications being accessed after they have been sent and received. Agencies intend to be able to read decrypted information and messages with the assistance of cyber companies.

How can they gain access to my messages?

The Government and / or security agencies now have the power to issue notices under any of 3 increasingly demanding categories. The notices may be issued to cyber companies that may include social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc), messaging services (Whatsapp, Viber etc) and telcos (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone etc).

They may ask for voluntary assistance. This step allows cyber companies to grant access to the requesting agency to read unencrypted messages. Companies are not compelled to comply but if they do, they are not liable to any breach of privacy.

The second option is to request mandatory assistance. Cyber companies must then provide the requesting agency with access to the requested messages. Agencies can enforce these notices with severe fines if companies do not comply.

The third notice compels companies to ensure their systems have the capability to allow access to agents at a future time. Companies must then ensure that if they are issued one of the previous notices, they are ready and capable of providing the requested assistance. This level of power is a particular threat to the people of Australia as it potentially interferes and exposes methods of cyber security.

Surely this doesn’t affect me?

Lawmakers have publicly labelled the bill as an effort to ‘prevent and counter terrorism and pedophilia.’ Yet, the law contains vague terms and has no clear scope of power. IT companies and other industry groups have raised very public concerns that the new laws are open to abuse.

Terms used such as ‘reasonable’ and ‘proportionate’ are open to discretion and ultimately members of the general public may be left vulnerable. At this current stage, there is no direct and explicit authority preventing police from attempting to use the law in order to pursue charges unrelated to the previous 2.

What does this all mean for me?

At this stage, the laws remain open and untested. As of today’s date, it is unknown how many notices have been issued and if companies have started complying with any level of the notice. Some major companies such as Apple have publicly opposed the legislation, although it is unknown whether they are willingly to, or already have complied.

Keeping in mind, some companies have more secure encryption and claim to delete all message information (eg. Wickr). These companies are seemingly less vulnerable to compromise; however, the new laws give the potential power for agencies to access information – and to outlaw any knowledge of Government access being passed to the community.

The Labor Government claims it intends to review the legislation in 2019 and make amendments. Until that time, private messaging may be compromised.

What can I do now?

Some apps and services such as Wickr are more private and less likely to expose private data. If you may have any concern about breaches of your privacy, it may be in your best interest to seek immediate legal advice.

Our Michael Gatenby has extensive experience in issues relating to collection of evidence, including the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1976, Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, Telecommunications Act 1997, Criminal Code Act 1995 and other related legislation.

If you have questions or concerns relating to your legal rights in criminal investigations, please feel free to contact our office at your earliest convenience.


This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice, you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Live to Ride Alone – GC Bulletin Article

We are back at work for 2019 and are looking forward to getting the best results for our clients in 2019.
Our Principal, Michael Gatenby, has been featured in the Gold Coast Bulletin today commenting on the Consorting Laws.
If you have any questions or have been served with a notice please contact our office to make an appointment on 55800120.

Penalty Units

1 Penalty Unit = $130.55

Penalty Units in Queensland

When deciding a sentence, the magistrate or judge considers multiple factors. For crimes in Queensland, the Court may deem that a fine is the most appropriate sentence. In most cases, fines are based on a system of penalty units, where a penalty unit is a set amount of money. Fines will be imposed as a specific multiple of penalty units.

The exact amount is changed with time, in order to reflect the current economy of the time.

1 Penalty Unit is currently worth $130.55.

This information is current as at 11 December 2018.

Offender Levy

For all people sentenced in Queensland Supreme, District or Magistrates Courts, an offender levy fee is a mandatory payment.

It is an administrative fee that helps to pay for law enforcement and administration costs. [Read more…]

Shutdown of Southern Queensland Correctional Centre

Southern Queensland Correctional Centre has now shut down. It is being renovated and is to reopen as a second Women’s prison in early 2019.
Accordingly the majority of the inmates have been transferred to Borallon Training and Correctional Centre, just 15 minutes outside of Ipswich.

[Read more…]

Proposed New Legislation Restricting and Monitoring Convicted Sex Offenders

The Palaszczuk Government have taken to parliament to impose further strict conditions and monitoring on child sex offenders.

This week, Queensland Parliament will be evaluating the change to legislation that: [Read more…]

Mongrel Mob to be outlawed in Queensland

It is expected that New Zealand’s, Mongrel Mob, will be declared an ‘identified organisation’, under the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Act 2016

The declaration comes following purported intelligence gathered by the Police Commissioner advising that there is evidence of Mongrel Mob activity in Queensland. The power to declare the gang an identified organisation is an unfettered discretion of the executive branch and is not the subject of any judicial scrutiny. [Read more…]

Southport Office Opening

Gatenby Criminal Lawyers has opened new offices in Southport.

Our offices are located in the Southport Central office towers opposite Australia Fair Shopping Centre.
Suite 2102 Level 1
Southport Central (Commercial Tower 2) 
5 Lawson Street
The entry to the Tower 2 lifts is located opposite the Southport RSL.
There are three hours of free parking under the building (entry via Lawson Street), we recommend you park in the orange B1 carpark and can use the lift to level 1.
Our office phone number remains the same (55800 120) and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Schoolies week legal issues can impact your future.

Dancing, drinkingIt is that time of year again when school leavers get the chance to celebrate their graduation at the annual ‘Schoolies’ festival. Although we are hopeful that it is a week of fun, laughter and celebration we understand that there may be some schoolies that face legal issues.  Some schoolies week legal issues can have a real and significant impact on your future.

With a number of arrests already made over the first part of the week, we are here to provide advice on your rights and possible outcomes of common legal issues you may face.

Common ‘on the spot fine’ Offences

We understand that many schoolies are under 18 years of age however under Queensland Law you are still considered to be an adult and will be treated the same by the courts.

If you are under 18, albeit the temptation, it is illegal to use or make a fake ID’s. Large monetary fines will be issued on the spot and your ID will be confiscated. These include but not limited to:

  • Using a fake ID – $378.00;
  • Lending your ID to a friend – $630.00.

We all know alcohol plays the main role at schoolies and the majority of the festival are on the streets and beach. These areas are categorised as a public place by law. If you are caught drinking alcohol in a public place you will be issued with an on the spot fine of $126.00. This fine will be increased if you are under the age of 18 to $378.00. Please be wary this will include holding a drink for your friend.

We advise you to consume all alcohol within your apartments or licenced venues.

Serious Criminal Offences

On a more serious note and circumstances where you can be brought before the Court are for drug-related offences. Common offences include:

  1. Possessing a dangerous drug (eg. cannabis, MDMA, ecstasy pills, methyl amphetamine);
  2. Supplying a dangerous drug;
  3. Possession of utensils used for consuming illicit drugs (eg. Pipes, bongs, needles and grinders).

These are serious criminal offences and can range in penalties from fines to imprisonment. Engaging a solicitor who is familiar with this area of law and an experienced advocate on these Magistrates Court matters will enable you to receive a sentence far less serious than if you were to appear self-represented.

More importantly, given schoolies are only 17 and 18 years of age, the effects of a criminal conviction can be extremely detrimental. A criminal conviction may be recorded in relation to any matter before the court. The Magistrate has a discretion whether to record a conviction after hearing submissions by both the Prosecution and the Defence. It is vital to have an advocate on your side to elaborate on any mitigating factors and target the key issues to the Magistrate.

Recording a conviction can affect:

  1. Employment opportunities;
  2. Travel arrangements; and
  3. The ability to obtain various licences (blue card etc.).

Don’t let a mistake ruin your life, we are here to support you every step of the way.

Your rights

The starting point is that you have the right to remain silent regardless of whether you have been placed under arrest or not.


  1. If the Police approach you on the street or during the beach party, you do need to provide them with your name and your address. If you do not comply with this direction you may be breaking the law;
  2. The Police must have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that you’re breaking the law, have broken the law, or are about to break the law before placing you under arrest or detaining you for the purpose of a search. You are not required to provide your phone or passcodes unless they have a warrant;
  3. You are not required to attend the Police Station unless you are under arrest;
  4. You should never participate in a Police interview unless you have contacted your lawyer or family/friend. We advise strongly to contact your lawyer or family/friend once arrested. The Police are required to oblige to the same as this is a right under the law;
  5. If you obstruct Police in the course of their duty, this can lead to a criminal offence.

We are experienced in the above and many other criminal matters. We can provide legal advice throughout each step of the process including but not limited to:

  1. Your arrest;
  2. Attendance at the Police Station to provide an interview;
  3.  Sentencing options.

Our role is to answer any questions you have about your criminal matter and make the process less stressful, expedient and deliver the best possible outcome.

If you have been convicted of an offence whilst attending schoolies or you require a lawyer to attend a police interview, please contact Gatenby Criminal Law without delay on (07) 55800120 or send us a message online.

About the Author.

Sam RigbySam Rigby is a Criminal Lawyer at Gatenby Criminal Lawyers.  He is available to discuss any issues that might arise over the Schoolies festival.  You can contact us on 0477800880 or book an appointment at our office on (07)55800120.


This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice, you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.