STAKEHOLDER FORUM TO SCRUTINISE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S ENCRYPTION LEGISLATION

 Sydney, 18 September 2018: Stakeholders from across the Australian digital and social ecosphere will come together this week to investigate controversial elements of the Federal Government’s planned encryption legislation.

Representatives of civil liberties protection, digital rights, academia, telecommunications and internet intermediaries have united to speak out against elements of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, otherwise known as the Encryption Bill.

The Encryption Forum organised by Communications Alliance and hosted by Baker McKenzie, will take place in Sydney on Thursday, 20 September, and follows a widespread outpouring of opposition to many of the measures contained within the draft legislation that was released for public comment four weeks ago.

Speakers at the Encryption Forum include:
  • Stephen Blanks, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties:
  • Lizzie O’Shea, Board Member, Digital Rights Watch;
  • Patrick Fair, Partner, Baker McKenzie and Chair, Communications Security Reference Panel at Communications Alliance;
  • Peter Leonard, Privacy Expert, Data Synergies;
  • Chris Wiley, Senior Security Analyst, AARNet; and
  • John Stanton, CEO, Communications Alliance

Overwhelmingly, involved stakeholders support the high-level objective of the draft legislation – to assist the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in an environment where criminals can and do use encryption to attempt to mask the content of their communications. 

Nonetheless, elements and potential impacts of the draft legislation that are generating controversy and fear include that: 

  • the Bill may undermine Australians’ cyber-security, including by forcing telcos to create vulnerabilities in their goods or services that can be exploited by criminals;
  • there are serious potential compromises for the privacy of all Australians;
  • the Bill lacks appropriate Ministerial and Judicial oversight of the actions of security agencies;
  • the scope of the Bill is extremely wide, seeking to capture the actions of telcos, internet players, IT companies, electronics manufacturers, installers, facility owners, component and software suppliers, among others;
  • the wide application to overseas organisations may cause those firms to withdraw service offerings from the Australian market while simultaneously placing Australian organisations at a competitive disadvantage;
  • the Bill risks placing industry players in an invidious position by requiring them to break the laws of foreign countries in which they operate; and
  • the Bill may contribute to the fragmentation of the global internet and risks seeing Australia’s inputs to global internet governance fora sidelined.
Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said the Encryption Forum is an important means to underline to Government the flaws in its current approach.
“This broad and spontaneously-formed coalition of stakeholders is sending a strong message to the Australian Parliament – that players in all political parties need to act now to protect the interests, security and privacy of all Australians,” Mr Stanton said.

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body  in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to  provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead  it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and  services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of  consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about  Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.

Media information contact:
Sefiani
Kurt Graham kgraham@sefiani.com.au
0431 478 558