Digital Rights Watch today expressed deep concerns at reports that the Coalition Joint Party Room has approved the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 to be introduced to Parliament.

“It is simply outrageous that the Government would move to introduce legislation that is currently undergoing an active review process within one of its own departments,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton.

“Even taking into account the ridiculously short timeframe that the Government allowed for this consultation, the range and depth of criticism has been overwhelming – from privacy experts, technology companies, civil liberties advocates, cryptographers, and telecommunications providers.”

“We’ve also seen a staggering response from the Australian public, with over 14,000 people writing directly to the Government in defence of their right to communicate securely. This strong and sophisticated response makes it clear the public is engaged, interested, and concerned. The Government would do well to heed this warning.”

“This decision reflects a lazy indifference to a deeply serious and complex bill. The Coalition should be availing themselves of the feedback of those experts who made submissions. That’s their job. Unless they fix their ignorance, we will be sleepwalking into a digital dystopia.”

“If the public cannot depend on the Government to undertake a fair, transparent and open consultation process in regard to this legislation, then it is on Parliament to do its job. This Bill should be reviewed in a parliamentary inquiry to ensure Australians have their voice heard – clearly something that Minister Dutton is trying his hardest to avoid,” he concluded.