There are a lot of native terrorists in Australia
Surveillance Act in Australia"A worldwide unique attack on our privacy"
"Their failure to keep the house because they are so worried about this bill is an indictment on the government, on any government that says it cares about national security ……"
There were protests in both houses of parliament, but a new, far-reaching surveillance law now applies in Australia. In the future, secret services and the police will be able to force domestic and foreign tech companies into far-reaching cooperation, help them monitor suspects and decrypt coded messages - up to and including the subsequent installation of back doors in their products, i.e. the manipulation of software or hardware , which makes apparently encrypted conversations or messages for security services to view or listen to.
"We should confront our government for it"
This gives Australian authorities powers that security forces do not have in any other western industrialized country. Powers that go too far for technology professor Katrina Michael from Wollongong University:
"The law should be called the Code Violation Act or Espionage Act. It is a massive attack on our privacy that is unique in the world and we should confront our government for it."
"It's not about undermining encryption systems"
Alastair McGibbon is Australia's top intelligence officer. McGibbon defends the new law. For him it is necessary to prevent and fight terrorist attacks and organized crime. McGibbon thinks this is nothing more than a modern form of telephone surveillance:
"The law is called 'Access and Assistance' and not the 'Encryption Act'. It's not about undermining encryption systems, it's about obliging tech companies to cooperate and disclose their information to help security agencies investigate."
Sharp criticism from Apple, Google and Facebook
Providers such as Apple, Google or WhatsApp parent Facebook are in storm - tech giants who have so far refused to cooperate with the Australian authorities. But privacy advocates also warn of unintended risks.
"This will open a back door into the security system of every available technology," fears Jordan Steele-John, spokesman for media policy for the Australian Greens. "Once this possibility exists, it will be exploited by hackers and our data will no longer be safe from anyone. Our two and a half billion euro tech sector is at stake. Many companies will have to migrate because they no longer work with EU countries, in which strict data protection laws apply, can do business. "
Up to five million euros fine for refusal
Lawyers and civil rights activists see the right to privacy at risk, and foreign investigators could also gain access to data from Australian Internet surveillance during the routine exchange of intelligence information. When Parliament comes back from the summer recess, it wants to discuss a stronger control of the interference. Anyone who refuses to provide the requested data will be punished: Institutions with a fine of up to five million euros, individuals threatened with prison. The real loser, however, could be Australia's own tech industry.
"Many domestic companies that operate globally will no longer trust anyone to guarantee secure payment transactions," believes Frank Galbally, head of one of Australia's largest providers of encryption systems. "Our best tech heads will leave Australia because they are now considered possible government spies. Just like Huawei did in China."
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