We can all agree that terrorists and paedophiles are bad. Really bad. And we can all agree that law enforcement should do what they can to stamp these criminals out of existence.
What is highly debatable, though, is just how much power Australian citizens want to hand over to the police and intelligence agencies to do so.
The current state of encryption laws
As AAP reports, Cyber advocacy groups will have their say about the proposed new laws in a public hearing.
Digital Rights Watch, Access Now and senators will sit before a parliamentary committee which is currently going through information regarding the reality of intelligence agencies accessing encrypted messages.
Here, the cyber advocacy groups will produce evidence supporting the implementation of encryption laws.
Part of the legislation would involve tech companies willingly handing over encrypted messages during crime investigations. These can be emails, text messages, websites visited…essentially anything that could give clues as to your whereabouts or daily behaviour at a particular time.
It’s a thought that is concerning even to the legislation’s supporters.
Digital Rights Watch chair Tim Singleton Norton has already warned the government to tread carefully, and to consider all potential risks, when considering the legislation.
Tech companies have also understandably, voiced their issues with the proposal. They believe it could make a detrimental impact on their customer’s trust as well as erode public safety.
And they aren’t the only ones worried.
Our grounds for disapproving encryption laws
The Australian Tribune believes the government’s proposed new laws to enable agencies to read encrypted messages go too far. The laws will erode citizens’ rights to online privacy and could undermine public safety.
While they may enable Australia’s spy agencies to crack some encrypted messages used by terrorists, it won’t be long before terror groups revert to other means of communication, such as hand delivering letters.
Atop of that, the proposed laws leave the door open for government agencies to read encrypted messages of anyone thought to be involved in ‘criminal activity’. That’s a sweeping definition. And one that will almost certainly change with time.
Who knows what could be considered ‘criminal activity’ in 50 years…
But of course, it’s today’s criminal activity which is pushing the bill further along the administration process.
Recent crime makes encryption laws appear ideal to Dutton
Our coalition government is making effort to have this bill clear parliament before Christmas this year. The push has come mostly from Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton.
Dutton’s haste has been in response to the recent terror attack in Burke Street, Melbourne. Failure to prevent this crime has made encryption laws appear as a necessity to prevent similar offences in the future.
Thankfully, Senior Liberal Scott Ryan has kept a level head and understands the true implications of the bill. He noted on Thursday its potential to affect parliamentary privilege.
The committee will have its final hearing this coming Tuesday, just two days before parliament lifts for the year.
We are praying they make the only suitable decision.
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