Digital Skills investment undermined by major parties’ digital rights legislation

Pic: Christiaan Colen

Political announcements around funding for digital skills and innovation will be wasted unless encryption legislation passed last year is repealed, according to human rights experts.

“Of course we welcome announcements to fund digital skills, artificial intelligence, technology and research and development, such as those proposed most recently by the Labor party, along with telecommunications investments by the Coalition,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Norton.

“However, the recent introduction of damaging legislation threatens the future sustainability and security of Australia’s burgeoning technology industry. In 2018, both Labor and the Coalition supported the introduction of far-reaching law enforcement powers to access and break encrypted protocols.”

“Until this damaging and unwarranted anti-encryption legislation is repealed there is a huge handbrake on the whole technology sector in Australia.”

“We must ensure that the Australian technology industry is not being held back by unnecessary legislation ,” said Electronic Frontiers Australia Chair Lyndsey Jackson.

“Australian companies are already reporting that they are losing overseas contracts with clients who no longer feel confident using products impacted by the legislation. The international reputation of the Australian technology industry has been significantly undermined and opportunities for growth curtailed.”

“Amidst the noise of a federal election, it is encouraging to see further commitments of funding for skills development, education programs, and support for industry investment in technology.”

“But above all, we must ensure that legislation does not hobble Australian companies that seek to compete in global markets and create clean, sustainable, high-paying jobs for the future.”