What’s up Down Under: defending encryption in Australia

Hi friends,

You may recall that last month the Australian government announced new legislation would negatively impact encryption and cybersecurity globally (the “Assistance and Access Bill, 2018”). We posted an initial review here.

The government asked for feedback by September 10, and we made sure they heard from the communities we represent!

Access Now submitted detailed comments that make it clear the bill would have negative repercussions both in Australia and around the world. We explain that the bill would harm cybersecurity and encryption as well as increase government hacking. We urged the government not to move forward with such a bill, but in case they do, we also provided specific recommendations to mitigate some of the worst possible outcomes. That submission is available here.

In addition to Access Now’s submission, we also joined and supported an Australian submission on behalf of civil society groups in Australia. That document also rejected the bill outright and provided 35 recommendations. Here it is at Digital Rights Watch.

Finally, we also worked with our friends in the United States for a joint submission from both civil society and large tech companies (“Reform Government Surveillance”). You can find that submission here.

Next steps

The government revealed the legislation as a discussion draft. It is now up to the government to decide if they will move forward. If they choose to officially introduce the legislation, it would likely go through the committee process. At that point, we will let our friends know that they are needed once again to push back against this dangerous bill. In the meantime, we will continue to host SecureAustralia.org.au to ensure that Australians (and everyone else) has the opportunity to defend encryption.


Best, Amie and Nathan