Thursday, 06 September 2018 07:25

EFA urges Australians to lobby MPs on encryption Featured

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EFA urges Australians to lobby MPs on encryption Pixabay

Digital rights organisation Electronic Frontiers Australia has urged Australians to comment on the government's draft encryption bill and ask Parliament to avoid mandating backdoors in applications that provide encryption.

EFA chairperson Lyndsey Jackson said: “These laws will weaken security for all Australians by undermining the very technologies we use to keep us safe.

“Our financial, health, and other data will be more vulnerable to cyber-criminals should these laws be passed. We have to stand up for our own digital security.”

The draft law, released for public comment on 14 August, aims to force companies to companies and makers of digital devices to help law enforcement agencies gain access to data needed for investigating terrorism offences. Else, fines of up to $10 million will be levied on firms and up to $50,000 on individuals.

More recently, a statement from the governments of the Five Eyes countries — the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — warned tech companies that they must voluntarily enable access to products sold in these five countries, else they will be forced to do so in cases deemed necessary.

In a statement, EFA said the proposed laws greatly expanded the powers that law enforcement and other agencies had to gain access to private data of Australians.

This would undermined "the digital security they depend on to do their banking, buy things online, and to communicate with their friends. While the government attempts to characterise these new powers as not providing a ‘backdoor’ that is precisely what they do", the organisation said.

It said it was "greatly concerned by the wide powers granted by these laws, and the lack of independent oversight of their use".

"These laws represent yet another major reduction in Australians’ digital rights using scaremongering about terrorism and crime to justify more power in the hands of unaccountable government agencies."

EFA said that though it had joined with a number of other organisations to lobby the government against putting encryption at risk, it was now time for the people to raise their voices.

Advice on making a submissions is here; more information on the bill is here; and people can show their support for a secure Australia here.

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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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