Australian Bid for Encrypted Data Passes First Hurdle
08 December, 2018, 08:15
The privacy of your communications - whether via email or message - is only as good as the encryption of the technology you're using.
The new legislation forces companies to crack their own encryption when and if it's requested by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The move makes Australia's state the first to be able to break the end-to-end encryption of Whatsapp, with other Western governments including the United Kingdom having shied away from doing so in the face of fierce criticism.
Technical Capability Notices are a direction from the government to build "to do acts or things directed towards ensuring that the provider is capable of giving certain types of help to ASIO or an interception agency" - essentially building a new capability to facilitate an investigation.
Labor MPs, including shadow ministers, said Mr Shorten was placed in an invidious position by the Morrison government, which signalled it was willing to leave for the summer break with the laws sitting in the Senate unless Labor agreed to pass them in their original form.
"We're prepared to let it go forward on that basis knowing there's more work to be done", Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters on Thursday night.
Privacy advocates decry such a law, but the government has said that such a law is necessary to fight organized crime and terrorism, making Australia a safer place.
Australia haspassed a data encryption law that will allow police and security services to access encrypted messages, according to a Business Insider report.
Cyber-security experts argue that the data-encryption law could affect the privacy of users, which could potentially leave them more vulnerable to cyber hackers.
It differs from laws in China, Russia and Turkey, where services offering end-to-end encryption are banned.
The proposed laws could also scupper cooperation with U.S. authorities because they lack sufficient privacy safeguards, Dreyfus said.
"What this law does is help codify a conversation between police and telecommunication companies, that has to be reasonable, has to be proportionate, and has to be technically feasible", he added.
He likened it to "President Donald Trump reading your mail over your shoulder as you opened it", and said the blow to encryption will make us "the laughing stock of the tech world". "Several critical issues remain unaddressed in this legislation, most significantly the prospect of introducing systemic weaknesses that could put Australians' data security at risk", read a statement by the Digital Industry Group on Thursday.
The opposition will "seek to improve" the legislation when Parliament resumes next year, he said, acknowledging that "legitimate concerns" persist.
The council was concerned the new laws could circumvent the need for the authorities to get a warrant before obtaining communications, while people could be detained in some circumstances without being allowed to contact a lawyer.
The Five Eyes intelligence network, made up of the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, have each repeatedly warned national security was at risk because authorities were unable to monitor the communications of suspects.
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