The government’s push to be able to potentially read every message you send is gaining steam.
In arguing for the proposed laws that will force tech giants to hand over encrypted information to law enforcement, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton used the same tired fear techniques you’d expect in debate class 101.
Namely, only those who support terrorism and paedophiles would have any reason to object to the new intrusive measures.
But there’s a bigger question every Australian should be asking themselves. How certain are you that the government in 25 years won’t abuse these powers? How about the government in 50 years?
Because the thing with handing over new powers to government is they almost never relinquish it. Quite the opposite. As we are already seeing, government tends to demand ever more…all in the name of keeping you safe.
That’s certainly Dutton’s message. He’s warning Australia’s intelligence and security agencies are losing their edge over…wait for it…transnational terrorists and networks of paedophiles.
His solution? The government needs new powers, of course.
Mr Dutton provided the bleak outlook on Wednesday as he restated the need for proposed laws enabling law enforcement to read encrypted information.
He acknowledged encryption was a ‘significant and necessary’ tool for people using internet banking or sending and receiving messages from government departments.
However, he said the technology was increasingly being exploited by nefarious criminals planning terror attacks or peddling child pornography.
Nine in 10 national security investigations are being impeded by the use of encryption.
‘Terrorists and criminals are using encrypted communications to avoid detection and disruption,’ Mr Dutton told the National Press Club in Canberra.
‘It makes the task of conducting an investigation — to say nothing of disrupting terror attacks or criminal activity — more difficult than it has ever been.’
Mr Dutton argued the legislation would not force the creation of ‘back doors’ in messaging applications or force service providers to weaken their security measures.
He pointed out multi-billion dollar Silicon Valley companies were among the loudest critics of the new laws.
‘It is important tech firms understand and embrace their responsibilities to our community that has helped enrich them and their companies and shareholders,’ Mr Dutton said.
Under the legislation, companies would be both compensated by the government and afforded immunity from legal action for providing encrypted data.
Companies could either voluntarily hand over information to security agencies or be forced to after receiving a notice from either the director-general of security or the attorney-general.
Mr Dutton called on the opposition to stop ‘playing games’ and support the legislation.
Labor communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said in a speech on Tuesday that her party was committed to protecting national security and enabling law enforcement agencies to operate effectively in the digital age.
But it was also critical Australians had confidence proper privacy safeguards and transparency measures were in place.
The laws include penalties of up to 10 years’ jail for failing to hand over information when a warrant is in place and the data is linked to a serious crime.
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The Australian Tribune with AAP