It’s Official: Australia Bans Encryption

Australia bans encryption, the first Western nation to do so. Its parliament recently passed a bill that forces companies to give encrypted data to police upon demand. Companies also have to build tools to bypass encryption (via Reuters).

[Dangerous Australia Encryption Law Passed]

Law < Math

The lower house of parliament passed the bill last Thursday. It was supposed to be debated in the upper Senate but in a last-minute twist it was passed a bit early, on the grounds that amendments be agreed upon next year.

australia kangaroo

Companies can be fined up to A$10 million (US$7.3 million) and individuals can be thrown in prison if they don’t hand over data linked to suspected illegal activities. Australia says these laws are needed to counter terrorism and organized crime. But everyone else says it’s harmful.

Other countries in the Five Eyes alliance—including the United States—are sure to closely watch how it unfolds.

[The GCHQ’s Idea to Spy on Encrypted Messaging Apps]

4 thoughts on “It’s Official: Australia Bans Encryption

  • On behalf of all Australians, I’d like to apologise for this unspeakable act perpetrated by politicians on all sides here. I know it was done at the request of the US, and for that I doubly apologise.

    Australians get really upset when I point out that the one thing we’re really good a doing is What-We-Are-Told. The Brits called the shots for over a century, and while we grumble and act all anti-establishment, we went off to die in British wars, and things are no different with our American masters.

    There is some light, though. Like the US and UK, disillusionment with the establishment is growing here in Australia and we have a federal election soon, but as I wrote in the fora here – when was the last time government overreach was walked-back by a ‘change of government’? Never. Last federal election 24% of votes went to independents when the the only message by both major parties and the media was “Whatever you do, don’t vote independent.” It is expected independents will get a bigger vote in the upcoming election and while that’s a good sign long-term, I can’t see it making any difference to Australian human rights. So don’t believe any stories about the legislation was rushed through to have it in place as -law- before the election, even that is B.S.

    This is an irrevocable violation of basic human rights which will be used as the prototype by all the US led regimes in the Five Eyes (and partner countries). Learn from our mistakes & don’t be like we weak-as-*iss Australians.

    As for Apple, I dearly wish they’d withdraw over the issue, much as I can’t contemplate computing without Apple tech. They’ll do their best to stand against it and publicise the issue, but they’ll fold, just as they did in the San Bernardino iPhone case. Tim talked big, but faced with a court decision that would set a precedent for all phones, a “botched” update was issued that bricked (among other devices) the 5C in question, followed by a “fix” that allowed one-time iCloud login without a password, then a final update that closed the backdoor. The next day the FBI withdrew their case and circulated an “unconfirmed” foreign assistance story among the lazy media. There were ways to break into that phone and the tech media knew it. It was not about getting into the phone, it was always about getting the precedent. And one small sacrifice of Apple’s values avoided that, but now you have all of Australia as the precedent.

    I applaud Tim and Apple for taking a stand on privacy, but even Apple can’t fight city hall. You might like to believe it, and I’d REALLY like to believe it, but watch this space.

    1. Hi gGrant, thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear someone with a first-person perspective on this. I too hope Apple stands strong in this, although as you said it’s bigger than the FBI fight.

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