Revisions eyed for rushed Australia encryption law

08 December, 2018, 08:17 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • Australian Bid for Encrypted Data Passes First Hurdle

Critics say it is flawed and could undermine security across the Internet, jeopardising activities from online voting to market trading and data storage.

In a move that has been looming for more than a year, the Australian parliament has passed a law that will require technology companies to give law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications, such as emails and texts.

The benignly named Assistance and Access Bill of 2018 amends various existing legislation to "establish frameworks for voluntary and mandatory industry assistance [italics own] to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in relation to encryption technologies..." In 2016, the US Justice Department clashed with Apple when the company refused to unlock an iPhone connected to a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

It differs from laws in China, Russia and Turkey, where services offering end-to-end encryption are banned.

Australia was a major driver of a statement agreed to at the Group of 20 leaders' summit in Germany a year ago that called on the technology industry to provide "lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information" needed to protect against terrorist threats.

The bill reportedly passed after Labour ministers agreed to do so at "the eleventh hour".

Government senate leader Mathias Cormann said the coalition would comply with Labor's condition.

But the nation's top legal society, the Law Council of Australia, said on Friday that the laws had been "rammed" through the parliament with inadequate consideration.


It followed a filibuster to prevent passage of a bill to help sick refugees on Nauru and Manus Island.

"We think that the bill does need to go forward but we offer to let it go forward without the amendments that are needed, without the amendments that are required to make it conform to the agreement reached between the government and Labor, provided the government agrees next - at the very next sitting day of the parliament to pass the amendments that we say are needed", Dreyfus said at the press conference.

But there's no guarantee such amendments will be made now that the bill is already 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.

Australia may not be one of Apple's biggest markets, but that doesn't mean that this new law might not cause problems. Under the proposed powers, technology companies could be forced to help decrypt communications on popular messaging apps, or even build new functionality to help police access data.

A controversial bill allowing spies and police to snoop on the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals was passed in Australia on Thursday, as tech giants warned of wide-ranging implications for global cybersecurity.

Critics anxious that software vendors would be forced to put "backdoors", or secret access methods, into their products, which could be discovered and exploited by cybercriminals or nation-states (see: Tech Companies Bristle at Australia's Crypto Legislation).

Recommended:



Popular

Epic Games Store Rocked at Its The Game Awards 2018 Debut
If you've played Fortnite , you likely have an Epic Games account, which is what you need to log in to the Epic Games store . Even with its generous revenue split for developers, competing with Steam is going to be an uphill battle for Epic Games .

College Station Students Remember George HW Bush
The White House said a state funeral would be held on Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. They'll then go back to Joint Base Andrews, with a destination set for Texas, the news release said.

Former President George HW Bush has passed away
Former President Barack Obama said in a statement: "America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush". While Mr Trump spoke graciously of Mr Bush, he has not always been so kind to the former president or his family. "George H.W.

Trump Picks Former 'FOX & Friends' Correspondent Heather Nauert as UN Ambassador
President Trump said Friday he would nominate Nauert, 48, who is a former Fox News anchorwoman. In announcing his decision, Trump said Nauert was "very talented, very smart, very quick".

Avengers 4 trailer to be released tomorrow?
This would mean that, for the first time, fans of the MCU will be privy to an unprecedented three trailers in one week. Bush, or arriving right on schedule, depending on your opinion.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard ''Agrees Terms'' With Real Madrid
Chelsea as a collective have seen their standards slide, with a second Premier League defeat of the season suffered in midweek away at Wolves .

NASA Released Breathtaking New Images From The Surface Of Mars
InSight science team member Tom Pike says the lander acts like a giant ear as the solar panels respond to the wind. These instruments will be the first ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet.

Here’s how to watch SpaceX’s Dragon take off for the space station
The flurry of activity continued on Tuesday when an Ariane 5 rocket carried two large satellites to geostationary transfer orbit. When asked if the booster would be reused, Musk replied , "We may use it for an internal SpaceX mission".

Arsenal players filmed inhaling laughing gas
The North London club sit in fifth in the Premier League table, only behind fourth-placed Chelsea on goal difference. The party appears to have taken place just days before the start of the Premier League season in August.

Ever Baby Born Following A Uterus Transplant From A Deceased Donor
After surgery, the recipient stayed in intensive care for two days, then spent six days on a specialised transplant ward. Doctor Andraus (far left) was the head transplant surgeon involved in the surgery to transplant the donated uterus.