Wednesday, 19 September 2018 05:57

Telco industry leads battle against encryption bill Featured

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Telco industry leads battle against encryption bill Pixabay

The Communications Alliance, which represents the entire telecommunications industry in Australia, has signalled that it intends to lead a charge to have the Government's proposed anti-encryption bill quashed.

A number of organisations and companies are set to gather in Sydney on Thursday to make known the reasons why they oppose the legislation in its current form at a meeting titled the Encryption Forum.

A statement from CA, the telecommunications industry lobby group and the organiser, said present at the Forum would be representatives from civil liberties protection, digital rights, academia, telecommunications and Internet intermediaries.

The government released a draft of the bill on 14 August for public comment, with the period for reactions ending on 10 September.

Opposition to the bill has already been voiced by the Greens while Labor has refused to take a stand either way, saying it would engage "in a constructive manner with the government on the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018".

But other groups have spoken out, making no secret of the fact that they think the bill is a big mistake.

CA's statement said the following elements of the draft were of concern:

  • "the Bill may undermine Australians’ cyber-security, including by forcing telcos to create vulnerabilities in their goods or services that can be exploited by criminals;
  • "there are serious potential compromises for the privacy of all Australians;
  • "the Bill lacks appropriate ministerial and judicial oversight of the actions of security agencies;
  • "the scope of the Bill is extremely wide, seeking to capture the actions of telcos, internet players, IT companies, electronics manufacturers, installers, facility owners, component and software suppliers, among others;
  • "the wide application to overseas organisations may cause those firms to withdraw service offerings from the Australian market while simultaneously placing Australian organisations at a competitive disadvantage;
  • "the Bill risks placing industry players in an invidious position by requiring them to break the laws of foreign countries in which they operate; and
  • "the Bill may contribute to the fragmentation of the global internet and risks seeing Australia’s inputs to global internet governance fora sidelined."

Six speakers will address the Forum: Stephen Blanks, president, NSW Council for Civil Liberties; Lizzie O’Shea, board member, Digital Rights Watch; Patrick Fair, partner, Baker McKenzie and chair, Communications Security Reference Panel at Communications Alliance; Peter Leonard, privacy expert, Data Synergies; Chris Wiley, senior security analyst, AARNet; and John Stanton, chief executive, Communications Alliance.

Stanton said the Forum would serve as an important means to underline to government the flaws in its current approach.

“This broad and spontaneously-formed coalition of stakeholders is sending a strong message to the Australian Parliament – that players in all political parties need to act now to protect the interests, security and privacy of all Australians,” he said.

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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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