How the Assistance and Access bill is going to hurt every Australian.

Why the world will lose trust in Australian technology.

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TLDR the government wants to be able to read your encrypted communications. Criminals and terrorists use encrypted communication so they need to read them.

I called Senator Wong’s office today to understand why she supported the bill. When I expressed my concern that overseas governments will avoid Australian products, I was told that wont happen.

Yet this is exactly what the Australian government did to Huawei. The Chinese telecom vendor was banned from supplying equipment for the multi billion dollar NBN and 5G networks. The Australian government feared that the Chinese Government would force Huawei to build in backdoors. Now the Australian government has passed legislation to be able to do exactly that.

So I asked why the existing powers are not enough. With a warrant it’s possible to bug a house, install a key logger or hidden camera to monitor criminals. I was told “that only works when you know who the criminals are”.

“We will pass the encryption laws, unsatisfactory as they are, right now,” — Mr Shorten

This bill was rushed through parliament without proper consultation. The long term consequences have not been properly thought through.

Remember the Federal Government’s data retention bill? The one where telcos are required to keep records of your phone and internet usage and allow access to security agencies? More than 60 federal, state and local agencies have applied for warrantless access, including Greyhound Racing Victoria.

These types of laws require well thought out checks and balances to prevent abuse.

Labor is claiming that they agreed to pass the bill to keep Australian’s safe over xmas. Anyone who has worked in a big tech company will tell you that implementing the required backdoors wont happen before xmas. Labor just don’t want to get blamed if a terror attack happens over xmas.

This seems to imply that the AA Bill is a threat to keeping Australians safe. Our politicians need to stop political point scoring and focus on increasing real household income.

The Consequences

The bill is

  1. bad for the Australian economy as global consumers will choose services from countries that don’t have the risk of backdoors.
  2. bad for jobs because Australian software companies will relocate overseas
  3. bad for democracy as the government will be able to access the private communications of journalists, opposition politicians, unions and businesses.
  4. bad for security as encryption keeps us safe from criminals
  5. bad for workers as it creates penalties for whistleblowers
  6. bad for the world as it acts as a precedent for other countries to push through similar laws that erode citizens’ rights.

Here’s the kicker though.

It won’t work.

Criminals and Terrorists will simply no longer rely on commercial encryption apps. Instead criminals will use custom software or services in countries that are not subject to Australian law.

Australia needs to grow its tech industry.

13,123,478 people paid tax 07/08

13,508,101 people paid tax 15/16

Thats + 384,623 taxpayers

But the population increased by + 2,783,435 in 2007–2016.

Put another way. Our tax paying population increased by 2.93% but our overall population increased by 13.24%.

This is a massive problem.

We need new industries and more tax payers if we as a nation want to continue to enjoy our quality of life. The mining boom is over and manufacturing is not competitive, they need to be replaced with something. Australia produces some of the best software engineering talent in the world. Tech could be that something to fill the void.

The Assistance and Access bill will have a big impact for the technology industry in Australia. Don’t let the politicians destroy our future.

What can you do?

Call your elected representatives and tell them how you feel.

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