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Could this be the beginning of the end of privacy

We are marching towards cyberspace oblivion and this 3-part special will be keeping a close watch on the nation’s privacy and security of information death- march towards… well let’s see, shall we?

As Australia Day approaches it is time to seriously contemplate the direction this country is heading. In the blink of an eye our great nation has become the first democracy in the world to effectively condone the right of law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies to access the personal online data and information of its own people. By way of the Access and Information Bill, legislators in Canberra have paved the way for anti-encryption laws. Laws which undermine the right to privacy of individual citizens and the ability of tech corporations to protect their customers.

More so, they have hastily and zealously pushed the bill through with the blind compliance of the opposition party and blatant disregard for the concerns of civil liberty advocates and the warnings of cyber security experts. Let’s start with this question: does this piece of legislation make good sense?

Reasonable and Proportionate? Hmmm…

Breaches and threats to our online privacy and security have been implemented for our protection. This is the government line and it’s both predictable and dangerously vague. Contained within the legislation is the following description outlining when a law enforcement agency can force a company or individual to adhere to the demands of a notice:

when the Attorney-General is satisfied that the requirements imposed by the notice are reasonable and proportionate.”

No explanation of what constitutes ‘reasonable and proportionate’ grounds is provided and for more information related to the specifics of a notice under the new law you can read this month’s Secure News (It’s Important) newsletter.

Couple this with investigatory-eavesdropping powers not being subject to judicial oversight, what has been passed in parliament without so much as a flicker of debate represents a green light for those charged with the duty of protection, to monitor us at their will without our knowledge.

They don’t want access through the backdoor, just the keys to the front door

Encryption makes it difficult for the government to spy on its own people. However, it also provides security to those who use technology for work, study, banking and taxation. In a rare moment of enlightenment, the Liberal party implemented a policy owing more to Stalinist Russia than Democratic ideals. It is difficult to fully comprehend the primary motivator informing the government’s decision to implement this policy in such a rash and irrational manner.

Arguably the most affected by the implementation of the bill are tech companies, including behemoths such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.

Apple first spoke out about the law in October 2018 saying that tools designed to weaken encryption are a huge risk to our digital security. Further, Apple stated it is wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers to investigate the few who pose a threat.” If you wish to delve deeper come back to this link after you’ve finished reading this article and just click for full article details.

How did it Get to This?

This is a valid question and deserves further discussion. There is no doubt that both sides of the political landscape were equally dedicated towards ushering the legislation through at ‘light-speed.’ This is unique for all the wrong reasons and could strengthen suspicions that both the Labor and Liberal party are one and the same entity and their existence is to merely provide the illusion of choice. But that’s a different story altogether best written by those that understand the inner working of Australian politics.

The line of reasoning espoused by National Security Agencies is surveillance of all and sundry is for the protection of Australian citizens from those who seek to do us harm. They overlook a glaring contradiction in fostering this sentiment. By subverting our rights to privacy, they are undermining us in a manner of which, the genuine evil doers could only dream. In some ways, we are doing large chunks of their work for them!

Australia, the Global Backdoor

Despite other Western countries actively pursuing anti-encryption laws, none of them have thus far managed to pass the legislation through their respective parliaments. Australia is part of a wider global intelligence sharing network with the five predominant Anglophone nations of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. There may be good reason why the push for a bill of this nature has occurred Down Under and not in the UK or the US.

Out of the five major Western countries, Australia is best positioned to force through a bill demanding tech companies insert backdoor access into encrypted information- a demand once implemented would benefit all intelligence agencies in the partnership. So, while this may appear to be a small provincial attempt to strike at global technology companies, it is a perfect strategy for creating an encryption backdoor for our larger benefactors, namely the UK and the US.”

For more on the geopolitical factors surrounding Australia’s new legislation, just head here for further information but also keep an eye out each month for our newsletter, Secure News – it’s important!