Tech Companies Line Up To Pan Encryption Bill

It's only been a week or so since the Labor Opposition rolled over and exposed its soft underbelly and supported legislation it knew to be deeply flawed. So, for now, we're stuck with the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018. Software companies around the world are lining up to take a swipe at the legislation.

In a new blog post, Signal has made it clear that they simply cannot provide access to any information to a government agency by design. The messaging service doesn't store any data and releases its source code as open source so, if anyone Tampere with it, they could easily be discovered.

And, if the government tries to block Signal's use in Australia, the company says they have ways to thwart this through the use of domain pointing and other techniques. In short, if the government wants to block Signal, they'll need to shut down complete access to the Internet.

The New Encrpytion Bill Means Australia Is No Longer A Good Place To Work In Tech

Despite a raft of 173 amendments being proposed, acknowledgement that the legislation is flawed and the opposition of almost every technical expert, the Australian government and opposition have passed the new Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) though the House of Representatives and Senate last night. This is a striking blow to our cybersecurity and technology industry that will put the jobs of thousands of tech workers at risk and, in some cases, put them in a position where they could be jailed for not telling their bosses if they are creating backdoors into software at the request of government.

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In submissions made before the legislation was passed, many tech companies voiced their opposition to the the wording in the bill and the lack of oversight.

The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, better known as AustCyber, has released a statement saying they are aware of the many concerns but that there are many unknowns in the ho the new laws will be implemented. And, as the body working towards promoting Austrlaia's cybersecurity industry, if they aren't sure what the legislation means to the industry then it highlights the vast amount of grey area in the new laws.

If you're worried about this legislation and the potential for the communications services you rely on being weakened then I suggest using a VPN that is provided by a reputable company that doesn't collect and store your data.


Comments

    This government doesn't seem to understand that there are many far more serious problems threatening the country than a very small number of people who want to harm others. They also paradoxically acknowledge that the tech-savvy terrorists will have no problem finding ways around the restrictions. So why bother, I ask?

    It, the government, simply has a very narrow perspective on what's really important. The obvious elephant in the room is, of course, climate change - which has the potential to kill far more people every year through heat and other extreme weather conditions than the terrorists ever will (unless they decide to nuke us!).

    Morrison is like Nero - fiddled while Rome (read Australia) burned. I.e he did nothing to stop it.

    I'm pleased to see that Signal has responded, and that it will ensure that Australian users won't be abandoned. I hope other tech companies follow suit.

      Their logic is simple, there *are* still people using simple services for nefarious goals. So blocking the easy targets does help. At least theoretically. The problem as I see it though, is that if you remove the simple stuff the bad guys move to harder and harder to crack methods. Which would actually make life harder for the security people to monitor. So I'm not sure it's actually a win in the long run.

      And, at the same time I think terrorism is a convenient excuse. It's like "think of the kids", if you don't support their plans you're automatically a monster. In reality a large benefit is going to be targeting criminals, tax evasion and piracy.

    If you're worried about this legislation and the potential for the communications services you rely on being weakened then I suggest using a VPN that is provided by a reputable company that doesn't collect and store your data.

    Weren't the government also talking about decrypting information in transit? ie: they'd be decrypting the traffic to and from the VPN. I'm sure I read something about them wanting to target VPNs too.

    Which I must say, makes me think the real cause is not fighting terrorism, it's actually inspired by contributions from Village Roadshow...

      Weren't the government also talking about decrypting information in transit? ie: they'd be decrypting the traffic to and from the VPN. I'm sure I read something about them wanting to target VPNs too.

      From what I've read, they are not interested in trying to decrypt the transmission.

      They basically want software to have backdoors upon request so that even before information is transmitted (entered into the end-point on the device itself), the message can be read.

      So clearly, they know they can't tear down the nature of encryption and are instead trying to put hooks in so the content can be seen even before it is transmitted.

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