Home Security NordVPN warns Aust Govt bill allowing encrypted comms access weakens Internet privacy for all

A newly proposed anti-encryption bill in Australia would have dire consequences for all Australians’ Internet privacy and security, according to VPN provider NordVPN

One of the most well known VPN services out there is NordVPN, with its media department regularly sending out all kinds of interesting information to journalists.

The latest is a warning that our own federal government is "about to finalise a new bill that, if passed, is going to allow its law enforcement agencies to access communications within encrypted services".

Nord tells us the model for the new proposal is the "UK’s Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 (Snoopers’ Charter), which has been called the most invasive anti-privacy law ever passed in any Western country".

We're reminded that the Snoopers’ Charter "allows government agencies to collect communications data in bulk, forcing Web and phone companies to sweep up all users’ browsing history".

Worse still, for Britons, is the Court of Justice of the European Union finding that "the parts of the law dealing with data retention were in conflict with the EU law".

The VPN service explains that "Australian ISPs and device makers will be required to allow government agencies to intercept user information in order to 'assist police in law enforcement matters'."

As you may have already heard over the last year or so is that "the Australian government has been pushing for global companies to allow police access to such services as WhatsApp or Apple iMessage, and it is now starting to apply this method at home."

Marty Kamden, chief marketing officer of NordVPN and cyber security expert, said: "When any government attempts to access encrypted communications, it goes against the basic principle of end-to-end encryption, which is designed with the purpose not to be decoded by any third party.

“Proposing such a bill shows the incompetence of the government in technical matters because, in the end, it would take away privacy and online security from all Internet users, creating a far more dangerous situation.

“When Australia passed its mandatory data retention law, NordVPN saw a 300% increase from Australian users. We expect similar numbers if this bill is passed because users simply don’t want to give their privacy away.”

For the few out there reading who need the briefest of refresher courses, a VPN encrypts all Internet traffic between a user’s computer and a VPN server into a secure tunnel.

As Nord states, "it would be much harder for the government to control VPN providers and to demand them to decrypt users’ information, as many of them, including NordVPN, do not keep any usage logs."

As you can imagine, NordVPN hopes you'll consider using its service out of the hundreds of competitors out there.

On a personal level, I purchased a two-year NordVPN subscription because it was better value than purchasing a single year's subscription but which VPN provider you do use is entirely up to you.

That said, for those who to be online with vastly more online protection, a VPN would be a very prudent, natural thing to do, so whatever you do – choose wisely, or perhaps we might all find governments of the world making the decisions for us to suit them, and not end-users.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.


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