Thursday, 04 April 2019 12:15

CA chief says number of issues in encryption law troubling Featured

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John Stanton: "Genuine risks are posed to the cyber security of all Australians and lasting damage is being done to the Australian tech industry – right now." John Stanton: "Genuine risks are posed to the cyber security of all Australians and lasting damage is being done to the Australian tech industry – right now."

Communications Alliance chairman John Stanton says the fact that the latest report from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security on the encryption law contains more than 100 pages about issues and problems that stakeholders have identified with the legislation was troubling.

"That is a frightening reality in itself," Stanton, who has been a vocal  critic of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 right from the time the public draft was revealed in August last year, told iTWire.

The PJCIS released its report on Thursday following a review that it began soon after the bill was passed into law in December last year. But it made no recommendations about changes to the bill.

Stanton said he was not downplaying the efforts made by the panel in reviewing the bill, both before and after it was passed.

"We respect the energy and perseverance that the PJCIS has put into examining this very complex Act," he said. "It is frustrating that there is no immediate mechanism available to start fixing the problems.

"The Bill that was designed to provide a path for urgently needed amendments to the Act is now stranded in the Senate, with no prospect of movement before the Federal election. The statutory review of the legislation, to be undertaken by the PJCIS — and the review by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor — seem unlikely to generate results before next year, 2020.

The PJCIS said on 27 March that it was referring the law to the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Dr James Renwick, who has been asked to review the law and report back by 1 March 2020.

Said Stanton: "Meanwhile, genuine risks are posed to the cyber security of all Australians and lasting damage is being done to the Australian tech industry – right now.

"We note the commitment made by [Labor Shadow Minister for Human Services and the Digital Economy] Ed Husic in recent days that Labor will rewrite the legislation if it wins government in May.

"Whichever party forms the next Government, we will continue — in concert with the very broad coalition of worried stakeholders in Australia and around the globe — to push for sensible reform of these troubling laws."


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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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