Trust in Australian tech firms compromised by new encryption laws: Frank Galbally

Trust in Australian tech firms compromised by new encryption laws: Frank Galbally

"Should governments continue to encounter impediments to lawful access to information necessary to aid the protection of the citizens of our countries, we may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions", the statement says.

A bill to force technology firms including Google, Facebook and Apple to give police access to encrypted data was passed by Australia's lower house of parliament on Thursday, pushing it closer to becoming a precedent-setting law. Those requests will go directly to the tech company responsible for the specific encrypted messaging service.

What's the Impact of Australia's Anti-Encryption Law?

Australia was a major driver of a statement agreed to at the Group of 20 leaders' summit in Germany past year that called on the technology industry to provide "lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information" needed to protect against terrorist threats. Leaving Parliament on Thursday, before the backdown, Mr Albanese dismissed the bill as "nonsense legislation". The Senate is also controlled by a Liberal-National coalition despite the Labor Party having a plurality.

Even Labor leader Bill Shorten, who helped vote the controversial laws in, has admitted he still has concerns.

The case made by the Prime Minister's government boiled down to one thing: terrorism.

During caucus discussions prior to Thursday night's backdown, some MPs told colleagues they knew of party members who had already quit in disgust at Labor's position.

However, the Parliament ended up passing the bill as it is on its last day before the summer break.

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"The commission, and the public, have not been given a sufficient opportunity to review and comment on yesterday's amendments prior to them becoming law".

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the Morrison government would "consider" amendments in line with the recommendations of a joint parliamentary committee that inquired into the bill.

Labor MP and regional communications spokesman Stephen Jones said he and a number of colleagues were "very concerned that we fix the problems in the laws as soon as Parliament returns".

But whereas the existing laws have allowed the government to request access, the new law gives it the power to compel companies to decrypt certain communications or pay a financial penalty. However, the legislation as it stands means Australia now has the worst encryption rights in the Western world.

Mr Husic said this week's outcome was "not a ideal endpoint" and "there will be people who wonder why we did what we did". The law also creates new penalties for resisting or disclosing such notices, which critics have argued could prevent whistleblowing on whether the powers are being misused.

While balancing anti-terrorism considerations with individual rights is a hard proposition, forcing companies to give up individuals' data seems to cut against the concept of exploring "shared solutions".

Australia is the first member of the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing pact-others include the U.S., U.K., Canada and New Zealand-to pass a bill of this kind.

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