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.
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.
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.