Australia Anti-Encryption law is now a Reality!

Last week, the Australian Parliament passed a new law that plainly attacks encryption.

According to the new law, Australian intelligence agencies could request a “warrant” to force tech companies to build a back door that allows those agencies to act private information of users. The bigger problem is that once such access is given, those agencies would have unlimited access to users data without the need for any other warrants or reasons.

Are you worried, yet? Well, that is not all.

The law above allows agencies to directly contact individuals in a tech company to build “backdoors” instead of formally contacting the company itself. Moreover, Australian law penalizes companies that do not comply with hits in millions of dollars, and could throw individuals into prison.

The Government is arguing that such legislation makes it easier to track down and stop criminals, especially terrorists, but what does this mean if such powers goes unchecked?

What does this mean to the rest of the world?

Although the law currently affects Australians, this could be seen as a testing ground for a more anti-encryption laws that could be passed by Australian allies.

Australia shares intelligence with U.S.A, U.K., Canada, and New Zealand. The five of these countries are known as “The Five Eyes“. 
The U.K. already introduced “Investigatory Powers Act” in 2016 that undermines #Privacy and #Encryption. 
That said, if this new law becomes a reality for Australian citizens, others countries, especially ones in the Five Eyes might follow suit. 

Who is fighting this?

According to The Verge:

A campaign group representing Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Snap, and Twitter described the new legislation as “deeply flawed, overly broad, and lacking in adequate independent oversight over the new authorities.” The Reform Government Surveillance coalition, which campaigns for worldwide reform about government surveillance, urged the Australian Parliament to amend the legislation.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/7/18130806/australia-access-and-assistance-encryption-bill-2018-facebook-google-apple-respond

Companies like Apple, Proton Mail, and Whatsapp are challenging the merits of this legislation, but it is unknown if the Government will end up listening to companies’ and people’s concerns.

What now?

The legislation might be modified in 2019, but for now tech companies have a duty to challenge such regulations that undermine the security and privacy of citizens in Australia, and around the world.

What do you think about the new law? 

Mohamad El Hout, MBA, M.Eng., CISSP

Mohamad is an entrepreneur and a Senior Security Consultant dealing with the design and delivery of standard and complex security gateway solutions, covering a wide range of cutting edge technologies. His interests include business, technology, leadership, sports, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge.

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