Thursday, 06 December 2018 07:59

Encryption bill: Greens want to know details of Labor-govt deal Featured

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Senator Jordon Steele-John: "This [bill] ...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.” Senator Jordon Steele-John: "This [bill] ...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.” Supplied

Breaking a long silence on the encryption bill, the Australian Greens have called on the government to reveal the details of the deal it sturck with Labor to agree on passing the bill.

The party's Digital Rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John made the call during question time on Wednesday, saying the deal on the Telecommunications (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 had been made in the "secretive and exclusive" Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security.

The last time the Greens spoke out on the bill was on 11 September. The bill is due to be presented for a vote in Parliament today, after the PJCIS recommended it be passed once it was amended according to the panel's recommendations.

Steele-John said: "This anti-encryption legislation has been condemned by the United Nations, the Human Rights Commission, the digital rights community and Australia's tech sector at large. It is a threat to the online safety, security and privacy of every single Australian.

"Technology and innovation companies will leave Australia in droves as it becomes clear these laws are incompatible with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulations.

"Furthermore, any individual — whether that be a politician or a journalist — who uses encrypted messaging services to ensure the privacy of their sources, or the privilege of their policy discussions, should feel threatened by this bill's potential unintended consequences.

"What was intended to be a national security measure will in fact become a national security threat, as hackers and third parties exploit the necessary weaknesses built into end-to-end encryption services. For them, Christmas will have come early in Australia.

"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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