Tuesday, 19 February 2019 09:57

AIIA raps govt over not passing encryption law amendments

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Ron Gauci: "The Act is likely to negatively impact the competitiveness of Australian software and hardware manufacturers in international markets." Ron Gauci: "The Act is likely to negatively impact the competitiveness of Australian software and hardware manufacturers in international markets." Supplied

The Australian Information Industry Association has expressed disappointment that amendments proposed to the encryption law were not passed by Parliament last week.

In a statement, the AIIA, the peak body representing the ICT industry, said the new law — officially known as the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018) — passed on 6 December, contained compliance requirements that could have a negative effect on both foreign and Australian technology companies operating Down Under.

It said the top two amendments included clarifying the definitions of "systemic weakness/vulnerability" and "target technology", and ensuring judicial oversight over the issuance of technical assistance notices and technical capability notices.

Soon after the law was passed, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security began a fresh review which it is scheduled to conclude this year and submit a report by 3 April.

AIIA chief executive Ron Gauci said: “We are disappointed that the amendments proposed were not passed by Parliament. However, we are heartened to see that some members of Parliament are starting to focus on the economic impact of the legislation on Australia’s ICT innovation and export activities.

“The Act is likely to negatively impact the competitiveness of Australian software and hardware manufacturers in international markets.

"We believe this could result in declining employment and export revenue, and consequently a significant reduction in local R&D and manufacturing.

“We need to ask how the legislation will impact on the exportability of Australian ICT products and services – there is a real risk they will be perceived as less secure than those in other jurisdictions.

"We are particularly concerned that Australian SMEs and start-ups — those companies that form the backbone of Australia’s economy — will be locked out of global markets as trust in their products is compromised.”

Any changes to the law will only be possible in April — the Senate has nine sitting days that month and the House eight — and an election is expected in May.

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Sam Varghese

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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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