Using our formal powers

Notice powers

We may issue a notice requiring you to give information stored on a computer. We may require you to produce the information in either electronic form or as paper documents, or both.

Our notices may require the production of electronic information at any place that we reasonably nominate, including your premises.

Access powers

When using our access powers, we may ask to copy information from your computer system to an electronic storage device, and will provide copies of these to you on request.

We will also provide you with a letter confirming our receipt of the downloaded information, if required.

We will not operate your computer system unless we are taking formal access and you have chosen not to access it for us.

If we need to operate your computer system, we will usually:

  • have our computer specialists access your computer
  • give you a reasonable opportunity to be present during the access
  • record the steps we take to search for and copy your data.

Copying electronic information

We may find that a large number of the documents we require are stored on your computer. Our officers must make an effort to determine the relevance of those documents before copying them.

Permitting our officers to image your hard drive and analyse it by using keyword searches may minimise disruption because we are likely to need less time at your premises. We cannot image the hard drive of your computer without your informed consent.

If you agree to give us your written consent to image your hard drive, we will:

  • copy the entire contents of your computer server or hard drive to an electronic storage device
  • give you a copy of the data – we may also give a copy of the data to an independent third party, such as a law firm
  • provide a written undertaking to conduct a keyword search prior to making copies to ensure that the documents we copy are relevant for the purpose of the compliance activity
  • give you an opportunity to claim legal professional privilege, the accountants’ concession or the corporate board advice concession.

If you do not agree to allow us to image your hard drive, we will:

  • conduct a keyword or directory title search of documents at your premises
  • only copy documents that appear to be relevant to our enquiries based on that search
  • give you a copy of the documents that we have copied
  • give you an opportunity to claim legal professional privilege, the accountants’ concession or the corporate board advice concession.

Figure 6 Copying and removing electronic information

Figure 6 showing copying and removing electronic information

For judicial consideration of the scope of our access powers to obtain documents stored on computers, see JMA Accounting Pty Ltd & Anor v. Carmody & Ors [2004] FCAFC 274.

Providing reasonable facilities and assistance

As the occupier of land, premises or a place being accessed, you must provide us with reasonable use of your facilities and assistance to extract relevant information stored on computer if we need it.

We may require facilities and assistance to:

  • make extracts or copies, whether hard copies or in electronic format
  • access a computer including login codes, keys, passwords and software manuals
  • copy an encrypted document for us – in this situation, you may need to remove the encryption, provide the password or operate the computer for us.

You may prefer to operate your computer, work together with us to enter passwords, and assist us to locate the information we need on your computer system.

Example – Reasonable facilities and assistance

During an access visit our officer, Lucy, needs to gain access to a computer system. She needs to make a hard copy of some of the information.

Lucy must be provided with reasonable assistance and facilities by the occupier of the building.

If she needs an electronic copy, Lucy can copy that information held on computer to an electronic storage device, with the occupier’s assistance.

End of example
    Last modified: 26 Jul 2016QC 37592