In a statement, the AIIA, the peak body representing the ICT industry, said the new law — officially known as the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018) — passed on 6 December, contained compliance requirements that could have a negative effect on both foreign and Australian technology companies operating Down Under.
It said the top two amendments included clarifying the definitions of "systemic weakness/vulnerability" and "target technology", and ensuring judicial oversight over the issuance of technical assistance notices and technical capability notices.
Soon after the law was passed, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security began a fresh review which it is scheduled to conclude this year and submit a report by 3 April.
“The Act is likely to negatively impact the competitiveness of Australian software and hardware manufacturers in international markets.
"We believe this could result in declining employment and export revenue, and consequently a significant reduction in local R&D and manufacturing.
“We need to ask how the legislation will impact on the exportability of Australian ICT products and services – there is a real risk they will be perceived as less secure than those in other jurisdictions.
"We are particularly concerned that Australian SMEs and start-ups — those companies that form the backbone of Australia’s economy — will be locked out of global markets as trust in their products is compromised.”
Any changes to the law will only be possible in April — the Senate has nine sitting days that month and the House eight — and an election is expected in May.