Today, a global coalition led by civil society and technology experts sent a letter asking the government of Australia to abandon plans to introduce legislation that would undermine strong encryption. The letter calls on government officials to become proponents of digital security and work collaboratively to help law enforcement adapt to the digital era.
In July 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held a press conference to announce that the government was drafting legislation that would compel device manufacturers to assist law enforcement in accessing encrypted information. In May of this year, Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Angus Taylor restated the government’s priority to introduce legislation and traveled to the United States to speak with companies based there.
Today’s letter (download here) signed by 76 organisations, companies, and individuals, asks leaders in the government “not to pursue legislation that would undermine tools, policies, and technologies critical to protecting individual rights, safeguarding the economy, and providing security both in Australia and around the world.”
“This is a really important issue for anyone who uses the internet to shop, bank or communicate – so basically everyone. Strong encryption is essential to the modern Australian economy, and it would be a mistake to deliberately weaken it,” said Tim Singleton Norton, chair of Digital Rights Watch.
Whether it’s online banking and purchases, secure communications with loved ones and colleagues, storage of sensitive data, or any number of other basic activities, we each rely on strong encryption to keep our personal information safe. Encryption and other digital security tools protect us against crimes like identity fraud, and in some circumstances, they provide important protections against physical harms.
“Australia is facing a choice on cybersecurity and encryption: real security or false,” said Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager at Access Now. “The country can either be the testing ground for policies that undermine privacy and security in the digital era, or it can be a champion for human rights, leveraging its relationships to raise cybersecurity standards for the next generation. The world is watching.”
In addition to the letter delivered by experts today, thousands of concerned individuals in Australia and around the world have joined the call for members of Parliament to reject any proposal that undermines the security of tools and devices we all depend on. For more information on the campaign, see SecureAustralia.org.au.