Tuesday, 14 August 2018 09:50

Greens claim new law would undermine privacy Featured

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Senator Jordon Steele-John: “What we’re talking about here is a serious pre-crime measure that will ultimately diminish the presumption of innocence and the privacy of all Australians online..." Senator Jordon Steele-John: “What we’re talking about here is a serious pre-crime measure that will ultimately diminish the presumption of innocence and the privacy of all Australians online..." Supplied

The Australian Greens appear to be unimpressed with the Federal Government's new cyber law, saying that it would "completely undermine the point of end-to-end encryption and the privacy of every single Australian’s personal information online".

Greens Digital Rights spokesperson Jordon Steele-John said in a statement that encrypted messaging, which was used by practically every politician, gained popularity "because of intrusive data gathering practices introduced by governments and security agencies to keep people’s personal and private information secure". The new draft law was released on Tuesday morning.

“This new legislation, the likes of which we have been expecting for some time, is a direct response to people wanting to keep their personal and private data safe and it is a massive over-reach by this government," Steele-John said.

“Regardless of what (Cyber Security) Minister (Angus) Taylor claims, installing software or legislating some other means to capture data as it is unencrypted on the receiving device undermines the very principle of end-to-end-encryption.

“Installing malware on people’s devices to read encrypted data is not a solution to catching criminals, but it is weakening the defences of every single device that receives encrypted messages, therefore making it easier for criminals who want to steal data!"

Steele-John said the government has proven repeatedly that it was not capable of keeping the public's data secure. "So why on earth would I trust them to build – let’s call it for what it is, a backdoor – into the one mechanism that Australian’s trust to keep them safe online?" he asked.

“What we’re talking about here is a serious pre-crime measure that will ultimately diminish the presumption of innocence and the privacy of all Australians online, and the Australian Greens will be referring the matter to committee for rigorous scrutiny when it comes to Parliament.

“I call upon those tech companies who are likely to be affected to immediately condemn this legislation, which presents a very serious threat to the privacy of their users!”

The government has invited feedback on the draft bill which can be sent to assistancebill.consultation@homeaffairs.gov.au by 10 September. 

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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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