Friday, 26 October 2018 11:12

AIIA says encryption bill may drive tech vendors out of Australia Featured

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AIIA says encryption bill may drive tech vendors out of Australia Pixabay

The Australian Information Industry Association has warned that the Federal Government's encryption bill would lead to overseas vendors withdrawing from the Australian market as they would not want their products to be caught in the government's dragnet.

In a statement, AIIA chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick said the other side of the equation also applied: Australian vendors could find themselves locked out of international markets with their products being viewed as untrustworthy.

The bill is aimed at getting around encryption which, the government claims, is used by criminals to prevent their communications being read.

Towards this end, the bill proposes to give investigative and intelligence agencies the following powers:

  • a “technical assistance request” that allows voluntary help by a company. The staff of the company will be given civil immunity from prosecution.
  • a “technical assistance notice” to make a communications provider offer assistance; and
  • a “technical capability notice” that 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.

The lack of judicial oversight for any of these new powers has been raised by many of those who are opposed to it.

Fitzpatrick referred to a survey carried out by the Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet, of which the AIIA is part, that showed a significant majority of people were concerned about these powers.

"These [powers] could allow the Government to force companies to change their products and services to enable the interception and collection of someone’s personal data, both without their knowledge and without the authorisation by a judge," the AIIA statement said.

It added that the AIIA "supported the Alliance in its plea to government to stop ignoring the concerns of technology experts and listen to the legitimate concerns raised by its citizens and industry".

"For legislation with such far ranging possible impacts, an open dialogue alongside a heightened level of care is essential to protect against the unintended consequence of making Australians less safe," the statement said.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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