Mobile phone triangulation laws to be changed to help find ‘high risk’ missing people

Police and emergency services will be able to more regularly triangulate the mobile phones of missing people deemed at “high risk” of harm under changes to telecommunications laws being rushed through parliament by the federal government.

Currently there has to be a serious or imminent threat to a missing person’s life and health for authorities to use triangulation on their mobile phones to estimate their location.

But in September the NSW deputy coroner recommended the communications minister change the wording of the 1997 Telecommunications Act to lower the bar, declaring triangulation “can be a matter of life and death.”

It was the second coronary inquest in the state in two years to do so.

The government’s changes will mean triangulation can take place if authorities believe it will help lessen the threat to a person’s life and health.

It will be used in cases involving missing people and to help emergency services deal with disasters.

Michelle Rowland says the government believes the changes will speed up responses to missing people.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

“These are critical amendments,” Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said.

“It will remove the requirement that the threat be ‘imminent’, because that requirement can be impossible to show in many cases, including in cases of missing people.

“This government believes in a timely response to matters that impact the safety of Australians.”

Changes have the potential to save lives

In cases involving missing people, the first three days are usually the most important and the legislative push was triggered by the disappearance and death of a 36-year-old man, known as CD, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The new father’s mental health had declined substantially by the time he was last seen, at 7:20am on Monday, June 17, 2019.


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