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Australia Plans Law for Tech Firms to Hand Over Encrypted Private Data

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The Australian Government has released a draft Bill known as the Assistance and Access Bill 2018, designed to compel device manufacturers and service providers to assist law enforcement in accessing encrypted information. Although apparently developed to allow government agencies access to criminals’ encrypted communications, the Bill also grants broad, sweeping powers to government agencies that will harm the security and stability of our communications and the internet at large.

This is a very dangerous slippery slope which is currently taking place in Australia right now but it will affect the UK, the United States, and potentially all other countries in terms of their own data and personal information security. In other words this essentially allows governments to get in touch with telecommunications companies to go in, read your data, and access it without a warrant and If people refuse to comply then there's going to be fines as big as $10 million including for people whistle blowing on this issue.

So here's everyone's top concerns with this bill:

  1. It creates obligations on technology producers and communication providers, forcing them to work for law enforcement agencies;
  2. Creates powers that would allow police to seize information directly from a device; and
  3. Allows government operatives to access more data through current warrants.

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tl;dr: Australia's not great with proofing their laws and is really bad for implementing vaguely defined and limited laws while presenting them as objective positives.

Honestly, this kind of law isn't that outlandish within the context of Australian history. My country has a long history of making vaguely defined laws with large, sweeping implications, and worse, of actually implementing them even amid cries of protest, or warnings that they are badly thought through and need to be more thoroughly defined.

Don't get me wrong, I still hope they don't implement this. But Australian is a country without explicit human rights drawn up in our equivalent of a constitution. Instead we have implied rights, a very shake-y premise that is entirely dependent on interpretation to function. What this means is that, by law, the Australian government can revoke them simply by justifying why they don't apply in this instance. And we can't even act like this is something they don't do, as they revoked several human rights during their "bikie ban", and have constantly infringed on the rights of illegal immigrants for over a decade.

Other examples of a shakey law with a broad reach and unacknowledged implications was the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill first proposed in 2015, which acted to change the laws surrounding audience reach and cross-media ownership in Australia. This was a bill that was DENIED on multiple occasions because it failed to offer any form of substantial protections against the consolidation of media powers in Australia, while further failing to outline a responsible party to enforce any of the legislative minimums when it came to local and regional coverage (which was being increased with this reform). This is actually one of the bills that acted as a trigger for Turnbull's double dissolution election in 2016 (for those unfamiliar, this is where the senate is entirely dissolved and every seat is voted upon throughout the country), and after the election, they actually managed to bring it back again, and pass it with amendments that failed to rectify most of these issues. Which has 100% resulted in the further consolidation of media power within Australia with very little in the way of side positives.

If there's anything to take from that, it's A. Australia is pretty bad with this shit, and B. Even if this isn't passed, don't think it's gone away. Either this is going through, or this is going to b a constant argument in our government for the coming years until some dumb shit puts it through anyway.

Kind of glad to see you pulling attention to it though.

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