Tech Companies oppose the new anti-encryption laws in Australia


In August 2018, Australia proposed fines of up to AUD 10 million and imprisonment for those who did not comply with a request of the court authorizing the authorities to access private data. The government said the bill was necessary given the increased risk of terrorist attacks. Considered as a test case while other countries are exploring similar laws, Facebook Inc,Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, and Amazon jointly pressured lawmakers to amend the bill before the expected parliamentary vote. Any attempt by interception agencies, as they are called in the bill, to create tools to weaken encryption represents a huge risk to digital security, said Lizzie O’Shea, the spokesperson for the Alliance for a safe and secure Internet agency. She added that the four companies had confirmed their participation in the lobbying effort.If the bill was to become law, Australia would be one of the first nations to impose broad access requirements on technology companies, although others were shortly about to follow suit. The Five Eyes nations, which share information,said last month that they would request access to encrypted e-mail, SMS and voice communications through legislation.

New anti-encryption laws will soon be passed

The Australian parliament was preparing to pass laws requiring technology companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple Alphabet Inc. to give police access to private encrypted data related to alleged illegal activities. The laws, fiercely opposed by tech giants since Australia is seen as a test case,provide for fines for failing to give authorities access to private data. They had the support of the two main political parties, a bipartisan parliamentary committee recommending their immediate adoption, paving the way for Australia to be among the first nations to adopt such rules. The government said the proposed laws were necessary to fight terrorist attacks and organized crime, and that security agencies should ask for warrants to access personal data. These laws will be used to catch the terrorists trying to bring down the country, said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently. The bill has not been tabled yet, but lawmakers are expected to debate it on the last sitting day of 2018.Technology companies have strongly opposed efforts to create what they see as a backdoor for user data, a stalemate that has been propelled into the public arena by Apple’s refusal to unlock an iPhone used by an attacker during a shootout in 2015 in California.

Tech giants firmly oppose these laws

Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Apple had previously publicly stated to lawmakers that requiring access to encrypted data would require the weakening of encryption and increased risk of piracy. There is a significant risk off acilitating the employment of criminals, no more difficult. The move is unjustified and is also extremely alarming, added Lizzie O’Shea, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Alliance, a technology lobby whose four giantsare members through an industry association. Frustrated by the stalemate, many countries have passed legislation, with New Zealand being the latest to strengthen the control over access to online communications. New Zealand recently passed a law that handed customs officials the power to compel visitors to give passwords for their electronic devices. Tourists refusing could be fined NZ $ 5,000. On the one hand, these laws are necessary because of increasing threats from terrorists and also to curb illegal activities such as human trafficking, drug trade as well as other security threats. But on the other, it also compromises the privacy and the right to privacy of many law-abiding citizens who have nothing to do with these activities whatsoever.

About Ranjith R 93 Articles
Ranjith is now an Independent Research Consultant, A Research Professional with 4+ years of experience and worked for leading market research companies in India.

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