Tuesday, 11 September 2018 11:53

Greens happy big tech has spoken out against encryption backdoors Featured

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Senator Jordon Steele-John: "Creating technology vulnerabilities to expand the surveillance overreach of the Five Eyes network will ultimately leave all of us more vulnerable to criminal activity." Senator Jordon Steele-John: "Creating technology vulnerabilities to expand the surveillance overreach of the Five Eyes network will ultimately leave all of us more vulnerable to criminal activity." Supplied

Australian Greens' Digital Rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John says he is thrilled that some of the world's big technology firms have put the privacy of their users ahead of their own profits by condemning the Federal Government's Assistance and Access Bill.

The draft bill was released for comment on 14 August and the period for public comment ended on Monday.

Senator Steele-John said, during the previous sitting fortnight of Parliament, he had called on tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter to speak out against the proposed legislation.

He said he was thrilled that a group known as the Digital Industry Group, which represents big technology firms, made a submission on Monday night which opposed the proposed legislation, "reflecting the Australian Greens long-standing position on protecting online privacy".

“Contrary to the stated objective of the bill, Australian cyber security will be significantly diminished by undermining the fundamental principles of end-to-end encryption – which is exactly what this legislation proposes," Senator Steele-John said. "It is akin to allowing [US President] Donald Trump to read your mail over your shoulder as you open it!

“Creating technology vulnerabilities to expand the surveillance overreach of the Five Eyes network will ultimately leave all of us more vulnerable to criminal activity. Given some of the biggest data breaches over the last few years have come from government agencies, I’m not left feeling any safer by the prospect of this legislation."

A number of groups have spoken out about the legislation, pointing out that adopting it would be a mistake.

“Frankly, this government has proven time and again they are not capable of keeping our data secure so why on earth would I trust them to build — let’s call it for what it is, a backdoor — into the one mechanism that Australians trust to keep them safe online?" Senator Steele-John said. 

“This is massive government overreach and something we should all be extremely concerned about. It makes a mockery of our right to privacy, leaves us more vulnerable to cyber espionage and permanently weakens existing protections we all rely on to stay safe and secure online.”

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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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