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Tech giants warn Australia against law to break encryption

AFP  |  Sydney 

Digital giants led by Google, and have warned against passing a "fundamentally flawed" law allowing to spy on among suspected criminals and terrorists.

In a submission sent to parliament this week and made available to AFP Thursday, the (DIGI) said the legislation proposed by would undermine rather than enhance the nation's security.

The bill, currently under consideration by a parliamentary committee, would give security agencies wide powers to force and companies to give them access to encrypted devices and messaging apps.

The conservative government of has demanded the bill be passed into law before parliament goes into recess on December 6, saying a number of ongoing counter-terrorism investigations were being hindered by plotters' use of encrypted messaging.

Authorities stepped up pressure for the bill's urgent adoption after three men were arrested and charged two weeks ago for allegedly plotting an Islamist-inspired mass shooting attack in using to communicate.

The DIGI alliance, which also includes and Verizon's platforms, said the bill as written would force them to create vulnerabilities in their operations which could be exploited by bad actors.

"Deliberately creating a means of access to otherwise secure data will create weaknesses and vulnerabilities that, regardless of the good intentions at the time, will give an opportunity for other actors -- including malicious ones -- to access that same data," they said.

Firms reject the notion that can be both effective and broken when needed.

"That is a needle that cannot be threaded -- you cannot break without introducing a vulnerability into the whole system," the alliance said.

The firms further complained that the proposed law did not include enough judicial safeguards against possible abuse by security agencies, and could force them to "take actions in that violate laws of other countries in which they operate or have customers."

The group suggested a series of amendments, including the need for all security agency demands to be approved by an independent judge; that they do not require providers to build or products; or impose "new data retention and interception capabilities".

It also said the demands could not require providers to do anything in that would breach laws of other countries.

The DIGI submission noted that the proposed Australian law went significantly further than existing security legislation in the or Britain, and would clash with data privacy laws recently adopted in the

Australia is a member of the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance along with the US, Britain, and New Zealand, and critics have suggested the new could be a test case for toughening anti-efforts in other countries.

The firms issued a veiled warning that adoption of the proposed law could lead major technology companies to end or restrict their activities in Australia.

"Australians may not have access to the best technology, because may choose not to sell to Australians and submit to this legislation," they said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 12:45 IST
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