Industry Articles

What can you do about it?

The problems associated with the passing of the Access and Assistance Bill are well documented and are universally condemned by broad ranging stakeholders who clearly understand this has not only negatively impacted on their businesses but on their civil liberties and rights to online data privacy. It’s important now to delve into the issue of what we can do, as individuals and groups to combat and eradicate this highly problematic anti-encryption law. Therefore, we will be discussing our ‘rights’. Why? Because they are being seriously breached by Australian policy makers and more importantly, it’s worth discussing actions that can be taken to impede this legislation. Let’s get stuck in and involve all levels of the politics, from a grassroots perspective to the upper echelons of the federal level.

The Labor Party Factor

Despite being largely responsible for the anti-encryption bill being passed into Australian law late last year, due to concerns about many factors contained within it, the Labor party capitulated and let the bill be pushed through. This was on the condition it would be reviewed and possible amendments implemented in 2019.

We are now hearing some of these initial reservations being voiced by Labor party members. Could they be the one’s we can trust to attempt changing the laws that no longer respect your individual rights? If recent history is a yardstick as to the possibility of this being feasible then the risk of being let down is very real.

On Tuesday, the shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, accused the coalition of welching on a deal to support amendments which improve the protections against the dangerously vague concept of ‘systemic weaknesses’ which have now been enacted as part of policy. Click here for more information

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

An option available to tech companies and their employees is to sign up to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). This is a conglomerate of influential companies who have created a medium to voice concerns relating to the passing of the bill and to warn of the negative future consequences the passing of this law will most likely lead to. The consensus is that the Act, as enacted, threatens cybersecurity and encryption in Australia and around the world, according to the signatories. The committee has made it clear on its demand for amendments realising that its prevention is now impossible because it’s now enshrined as part of Australian governmental policy.

Although we continue to oppose the Telecommunications and other legislation amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, now that the act has passed and Parliament has passed a mandatory review of the new legislation, we renew our call for amendments that would mitigate the threats to cybersecurity and human rights that the new law poses. These comments draw from our misgivings highlighted in November 2018 a month before the bill came into existence and explain how the minor amendments made before the Access and Assistance Bill was pushed through parliament in December have still not been addressed. Therefore, the organisations which constitute the (PJCIS) urge parliament to seriously consider our recommendations and make the necessary changes so that the act will do the least harm possible. These changes would ameliorate, though not cure, some of the most significant concerns the legislation now raises. This is just a snippet, for more information click here

Digital Rights Watch

The Digital Rights Watch group provides both corporations and individuals the opportunity to take action against the anti-encryption laws. They have stipulated their three major concerns related to the passing of the bill which are that it:

  1. Creates obligations on technology producers and communication providers, forcing them to work for law enforcement agencies.
  2. Creates powers that allows police to seize information directly from devices.
  3. Allows government operatives to access more data through-the-use-of current warrants. Click here for more on this

The head of Digital Rights Watch, Lizzie O’Shea, is convinced Australia wants to take its surveillance level to frightening levels and warns that what starts ‘Down Under’ will by no means necessarily stop there.

Worse still, the Australian government hardly has the best reputation for keeping things safe. In recent times, it has lost control of sensitive medical data, one of its military contractors was hacked and lost substantial amounts of information and in an error of comedic proportions, a cabinet full of sensitive documents were found in the draws of a second-hand furniture store. Just think how easily sophisticated criminals might be able to get their hands on any digital tools for gaining access to information which has had its encryption undermined by way of implemented Australian policy.”

The limits of our democracy are being seriously tested and the more the Australian population apathetically allows the government to implement legislation with impunity and without fear of recrimination from the voting public, the closer we edge towards a situation resembling despotic, overbearing regimes.

Let’s try and doing something back.