Australia encrypted data bill passes first hurdle

Australia encrypted data bill passes first hurdle

The proposal, opposed by the tech giants because Australia is seen as a test case for other nations who want to explore similar rules, faces a sterner test in the upper house where there are concerns about privacy and information security.

The Australian government's cyber security adviser Alastair MacGibbon said on Wednesday that authorities had been able to intercept telephone communications lawfully for nearly 40 years, and needed new powers to keep pace with modern technology.

Australia's top legal body, the Law Council of Australia, on Friday said the legislation "rammed" through parliament left open the possibility of "overreach" from the police and intelligence officials.

The bills allow spies and police to snoop on the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals. "What about the open source projects that will ask their Australian contributors to stop working on their security code, and businesses who will choose not to employ Australian developers, or decline to open offices in that country?" wrote Danny O'Brien, global director at the EFF.

Australian Greens' party Senator Jordon Steele-John has been vocal in his opposition of the Bill, condemning the Opposition for helping the Morrison government pass it and describing it as "an affront to privacy and democracy".

"Far from being a "national security measure" this bill will have the unintended outcome of diminishing the online safety, security and privacy of every single Australian", Steele-John wrote this week.

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And it is fair to say that the tech industry has long fought against government attempts to access encryption.

The government was handed a last-minute victory yesterday, with opposition leader Bill Shorten and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus scrapping plans to amend controversial encryption legislation. But in recent years due to rising incidents of data breaches and criminal activity, software companies have sought to ensure content transmitted within those products is shielded by encryption if messages are intercepted.

Australia has become the first country in the world to ditch the messaging app's encryption.

Major technology companies could soon begin receiving notices under the new law.

Australia's ABC News notes that, before this, the Australian government already had the power to "obtain remote access to computer networks and their data" and "in some circumstances, law enforcement can also compel people under threat of jail time to disclose their computer or smartphone passwords". Are they going to put a keystroke on the device?

"But I wasn't prepared to walk away from my job and leave matters in a stand-off and expose Australians to increased risk in terms of national security". The second level is a technical assistance notice, which requires an organization to comply with a decryption request if it is technically feasible. He believed demanding co-operation was easier said than done and expected the government would encounter "jurisdictional and procedural" problems with the implementation of the laws. "In many ways, I think it's unworkable". "It is a good thing".

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