The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, that was released this morning for public comment, does not make it necessary for companies to weaken encryption.
In a statement, Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor said: “These reforms will allow law enforcement and interception agencies to access specific communications without compromising the security of a network.
"The measures expressly prevent the weakening of encryption or the introduction of so-called backdoors.
“Our first priority is keeping Australians safe and these measures will go a long way to ensure that criminals cannot hide.”
Companies will be initially requested to co-operate with law enforcement; if they do not, the pressure will be stepped up to force them to help.
First, there will be a “technical assistance request” that allows voluntary help by a company. The staff of the company will be given civil immunity from prosecution.
Next, an interception agency can issue a “technical assistance notice” to make a communications provider offer assistance.
Finally, a “technical capability notice” can be issued by the Attorney-General at the request of an interception agency. This will force a company to help law enforcement, by building functionality.
However it cannot include the decryption of information or removal of electronic protection in any system.
The government has invited feedback on the draft bill which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 September.