Several tech companies are publicly opposing Australia’s newly-passed anti-encryption legislation.
According to a new report from TechCrunch, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, among other tech companies, have denounced the Australian government’s decision to pass a new anti-encryption law that many, including the aforementioned companies, claim undermines cybersecurity and human rights.
The legislation, called The Assistance and Access Bill 2018, can reportedly compel a private company to create new interception capabilities so no communications data is completely inaccessible to the government. Even more controversial is the fact that this security vulnerability must be deployed in secret, without public knowledge.
“The new Australian law is deeply flawed, overly broad, and lacking in adequate independent oversight over the new authorities,” said the Reform Government Surveillance coalition in a statement. Apple, Google, and Microsoft added that the law would “undermine the cybersecurity, human rights, or the right to privacy of our users.”
Critics have widely panned the laws as being short-sighted and missing the point of encryption. Though the government claims that it won’t be requesting any tech companies to build “systemic weaknesses” into their products, there may not be an alternative when it comes to encryption, and the terminology used in the bill has been a hot issue.
“There has been similar legislation in the UK and possibly a few other jurisdictions but their legislation doesn’t go anywhere near as far as what’s happening here,” said Mark Gregory, an associate professor specializing in network engineering and Internet security at Melbourne’s RMIT University.
“The government here can coerce the company to actually provide backdoors into their systems and into devices and force the company to build systems that can help with investigations,” he added.
Apple responded to the new bill by making a submission to the Australian government a month ago, saying “Encryption is simply math. Any process that weakens the mathematical models that protect user data for anyone will by extension weaken the protections for everyone.”
“It would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat,” the tech giant added.