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Australia's New Encryption Laws

New encryption laws passed through the Upper House at 7.00pm last night. But what do these laws mean to the average Australian? We thought we would use this week's Blog to bring together the latest news stories and government legislation to provide an overview and insight in to the these new laws, opposition towards them, and what they aim to achieve.

Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill House of Representatives

06 December 2018

Amends the: Telecommunications Act 1997 to: establish frameworks for voluntary and mandatory industry assistance to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in relation to encryption technologies via the issuing of technical assistance requests, technical assistance notices and technical capability notices; and make amendments contingent on the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2018;


Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 to provide that certain decisions under the new arrangements for industry assistance are not subject to judicial review; Criminal Code Act 1995 to ensure providers are not criminally responsible for particular telecommunications and computer offences for any acts or things done consistent with a technical assistance request, technical assistance notice or technical capability notice; Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and four other Acts to: provide an additional power for Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement agencies investigating certain federal offences to obtain covert computer access warrants under the Surveillance Devices Act 2004; and provide additional powers for law enforcement agencies in relation to the use of existing computer access powers; International Criminal Court Act 2002 and two other Acts to make amendments contingent on the commencement of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (International Crime Cooperation and Other Measures) Act 2018;


Crimes Act 1914 to amend the search warrant framework to: allow law enforcement agencies to collect evidence from electronic devices under warrant remotely; increase penalties for not complying with orders from a judicial officer requiring assistance in accessing electronic devices where a warrant is in force; and increase the period during which an electronic device found while executing a warrant can be moved to another place for analysis from 14 days to 30 days;


Customs Act 1901 to: provide the Australian Border Force with a new power to request a search warrant to be issued in respect of a person for the purposes of seizing a computer or data storage device; increase penalties for not complying with orders from a judicial officer requiring assistance in accessing electronic devices where a warrant is in force; and increase the timeframe for the examination of electronic devices moved under a warrant from 72 hours to 30 days; and


Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 to: provide that a person or body is not subject to civil liability where they voluntarily provide assistance to ASIO, or give information or produce a document to ASIO unsolicited, in certain circumstances; and enable ASIO to require a person with knowledge of a computer or a computer system to provide assistance that is reasonable and necessary to gain access to data on a device that is subject to an ASIO warrant. Read more


The federal government and Labor have passed controversial new encryption laws. What do they actually mean?

News Corp, 07 December 2018


Australia has passed a bill designed to give intelligence agencies more power to access your encrypted conversations.


Labor has agreed to pass the Morrison Government’s legislation without amendments, meaning they will be locked-in before Christmas.


But what do these laws actually mean, and why are they so controversial? Read more


Australia data encryption laws explained

BBC, 07 December 2018


Australia has passed controversial laws designed to compel technology companies to grant police and security agencies access to encrypted messages.


The government says the laws, a world first, are necessary to help combat terrorism and crime.


However critics have listed wide-ranging concerns, including that the laws could undermine the overall security and privacy of users.


The laws were rushed through parliament on its final day of the year.


The Labor opposition said it had reluctantly supported the laws to help protect Australians during the Christmas period, but on Friday it said that "legitimate concerns" about them remained.


Cyber-security experts have warned the laws could now create a "global weak point" for companies such as Facebook and Apple. Read more

'Outlandish' encryption laws leave Australian tech industry angry and confused

ABC News, 07 December 2018

The Australian technology industry is "incredulous to fuming mad" after the Government's controversial encryption bill passed the Senate.


Under the new laws, security agencies have greater powers to get at the encrypted messages of criminal suspects — in some cases they can demand companies build new capabilities to allow them access.


Labor members called the bill flawed during debate on Thursday, but the Opposition later pulled its amendments at the last minute and voted to support the Government.

The situation has left Australian technology companies struggling to understand the potential impact on their global standing and bottom line.


John Stanton, chief executive of the Communications Alliance, said the bill's passing was a "magnificent triumph of politics over policy".


Partner at M8 Ventures Alan Jones argued the bill will have unintended consequence for the security reputation of Australian businesses — "crippling" attempts to export their technology. Read more


The Tradeoff Between Security And Privacy: How Do Terrorists Use Encryption?

Forbes, 20 November 2018

Over the last few years, the British government has devoted greater attention to the presence of online extremism, especially following the five terror incidents that occurred in 2017 alone.


This includes the ‘Darknet’ – portions of the internet that are not easily accessible by the public at large, without dedicated expertise.


Like encryption, terrorists and extremists can use the Darknet to mask their communication and propaganda efforts, recruit and radicalize, and gain material benefits in the form of illicit goods, such as weapons and fraudulent documents.

Read more


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