On December 6th, the Australian Internet Parliament formally passed the “Assistance and Access Bill.” This package includes a series of provisions which require tech firms to help the country’s security agencies bypass encrypted communications in their systems. i2Coalition Executive Director Christian Dawson issued the following statement:
“The i2Coalition is disappointed to see this problematic bill pass. i2Coalition worked with a coalition of tech organizations to voice our concerns to the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Parliament in a series of letters earlier this year, warning them of the ill-effects this bill could have to Internet safety as well as the digital economy, globally.
Strong, uncompromised encryption is the most vital tool we have to ensure the safety and security of Internet users, and governments should not require companies to undermine those critical tools. While we do acknowledge that the Australian Parliament made note that they will restrict requests to areas in which subverting cryptography will not create “systemic weaknesses” in the service’s security, we are troubled by the lack of understanding that the core provisions of the bill itself create systemic weaknesses in our most important systems. At worst this bill creates a disaster for cybersecurity, and at best it causes extreme business uncertainty as to what constitutes their requirements under the law.
This is the first country within the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance, made up of Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, to take this kind of dangerous step. We need to fight diligently to make sure that the kind of wrong thinking that led to this bill’s passage doesn’t spread to other countries. As an
industrywe will continue to work with legislators worldwide, law enforcement, security professionals, and associations around the world to find smarter ways to address the problems of law enforcement, without putting the security and stability of the Internet as a whole at risk.”