Electronic Frontiers Australia https://www.efa.org.au Your voice for digital freedom, access and privacy since 1994. Tue, 08 Sep 2015 03:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 EFA again calls for ISP Copyright Code to be halted https://www.efa.org.au/2015/09/08/halt-isp-copyright-code/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/09/08/halt-isp-copyright-code/#comments Mon, 07 Sep 2015 14:01:07 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5791 Continue reading ]]> EFA reiterates its call for the ISP Copyright Code to be halted.

New research released last week by Choice confirms what EFA and most informed observers (including the Communications Minister) have been saying for some time, namely that the primary drivers of online copyright infringement in Australia are lack of timely availability and price discrimination.

The Australian market has been transformed this year with the introduction and explosive growth of a number of excellent new streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) services. As ACMA reports, 'almost two million Australians have subscribed to SVOD services since early 2015'.

It is therefore no surprise that Choice's research already shows a material decline (from 23% to 17%) in the number of respondents that regularly download infringing content, as well as reporting a massive 33% of respondents who are downloading 'much less often' since subscribing to streaming services.

That's one-third of users whose reported behaviour has changed, in six months.

One-third.

In six months.

EFA does not condone copyright infringement but has long understood the frustrations of Australian consumers who simply seek timely, convenient, high-quality and competitively-priced access to the same content as their friends in North America and Europe.

The majority of online copyright infringement in Australia is demonstrably driven by market failures, and the market is, finally, addressing those shortcomings.

International experience shows that copyright notice schemes are of marginal value at best in addressing online copyright infringement.

Ten weeks have now passed since the apparently urgent 'website-blocking' bill became law in Australia, yet we are still to see a single case presented.

The deadline for the ISP Copyright Code has now also passed and, as per previous attempts to find a consensus between the ISP industry and content distributors, the issue of who pays for notices to be sent to allegedly-infringing users remains unresolved.

EFA Executive Officer Jon Lawrence said today. "The current government, which is ostensibly committed to deregulation, must accept the reality that finding a consensus on the cost burden of a copyright notice scheme is simply not possible.

"It must also realise that legislating to impose such a scheme will only add another layer of unnecessary regulation on to Australia's ISP sector, which is already struggling with the government's overly-hasty and inadequately-prepared data retention legislation.

"Enough time and money has been wasted on the ISP Copyright Code. It's time for the government to get out of the way and allow the market to evolve."

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High public officials must have at least basic computer skills https://www.efa.org.au/2015/08/31/public-officials-computer-skills/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/08/31/public-officials-computer-skills/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:13:36 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5787 Continue reading ]]> emailIt is no longer acceptable for high-ranking public officials to not possess at least the most basic computer and electronic communication skills as are required for the most junior entry-level positions.

Legal professionals particularly are required to undertake a minimum level of professional development throughout their careers. It is therefore very difficult to understand how any legal professional could attain a high public office without having gained even basic computer literacy and a grasp of simple electronic communication platforms such as email.

There are many excellent training courses available from any number of organisations around Australia and online. Most local libraries offer very high quality free training to residents on all sorts of internet and web-based systems. There is also no shortage of daughters, sons, nieces, nephews and god-children that are more than capable of providing basic computer skills training to those in their families whose formal education occurred in the pre-digital age.

EFA would be happy to provide guidance and basic training in the use of email to any high-ranking public officials that are in need of such remedial assistance.

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A change in the rules would open up the .au space https://www.efa.org.au/2015/08/19/open-up-au-space/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/08/19/open-up-au-space/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 02:46:30 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5780 Continue reading ]]> Image:  auDA

Image: auDA

If you want to register an Australian web address, your options may be about to change due to a review of domain name policy that is currently underway.

This article, by Derek Whitehead, was originally published on The Conversation. Derek is Adjunct professor at Swinburne University of Technology, and is Chair of the current 2015 auDA Names Panel. He is a member of auDA and a member of EFA. See the original article.

EFA's Executive Officer Jon Lawrence is also a member of the 2015 auDA Names Panel, in his personal capacity (not as a representative of EFA).

The Australian domain name system (DNS) has been managed by .au Domain Administration (auDA) since 2001, and it now oversees more than three million names registered.

The Australian DNS is already distinctive for a number of reasons. The registrant must be Australian. Names are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis – there is no hierarchy of rights. Registration for the sole purpose of resale is also not permitted, unlike most other top level domains (TLDs).

The domain name system (DNS) is also considered a public good, with its stability and effectiveness fundamental to the proper functioning of the internet. In Australia, a relatively high level of regulation exists and is accepted, and there are no plans to change this.

Time for change?

However, auDA is currently engaged in a consultative process to consider changes to the DNS system itself. Anyone can provide a submission or comments along the way.

The 2015 Names Panel is today issuing its draft recommendations. The main recommendation is that, in principle, Australians should be able to register domain names directly under .au (such as myname.au, or abc.au, or westpac.au).

This has not been possible before. Currently, the .au country code is considered the top level domain (ccTLD) for Australia. As a part of the current scheme, all sites must also be registered under second level domain name (2LDs). Some 2LDs are “open”, thus available to members of the public, such as .com.au, .net.au and org.au. And some are “closed”, meaning they’re restricted to certain sectors, such as .edu.au and .gov.au.

The proposed change would leave the existing 2LDs in place, and add a new option of registering directly under .au for any Australian entity.

Australia has strong rules on what name can be registered, and would continue these under the proposed new scheme. To register directly, you would need to be eligible to register a domain under the existing 2LD rules, and if necessary provide evidence of eligibility. The existing rules would also apply to the kind of name that could be registered – you can’t have any name you want.

Why the need to change?

The main reason the panel has recommended this change is that direct registrations would create more options. They include names that are shorter, more appealing and more memorable. They would make the domain name system simpler and easier to use.

Moreover, the proposed change would open a wide range of new choices for registrants. For some they would be better options. For example, the panel thinks it would be simpler for people to obtain an acceptable Australian domain name.

Those against this change, such as the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), argue) that we now have an orderly, logical hierarchy of names, and many new registrations would just be new versions of the same name, registered for defensive reasons.

The main value added, some say, would be revenue for the domain name industry in selling more domain names. It is also argued that the change would be confusing for users, and less clear than what we have in the exist hierarchy of domain names.

It’s all about you

One of the issues that has been widely discussed is that of the use of the DNS by individuals who are not commercial enterprises (.com.au and .net.au) or non-profit organisations (.org.au and .asn.au).

Individuals can have a .id.au domain name, but although this 2LD has been simplified and heavily promoted, only 16,000 people currently use it.

There has been an increase in the number of people registering different types of domain names for individual use, but there has been a decrease in the number of id.au domain names being registered. The proposed changes will hopefully encourage individuals to readily obtain a desirable Australian domain name.

Many other Australian entities might find the new names attractive, too.

The timing of this proposal has been influenced by events outside Australia. Most comparable jurisdictions have already made this change. Most recently, New Zealand and the United Kingdom adopted direct registration through consultative processes.

The context is a dramatic increase in the number of global top level domains, and hundreds of new TLDs have come into being since 2014, and continue to do so. The panel’s terms of reference specifically mention direct registration and were framed with these developments in mind.

As Australian internet users gain a better understanding of the DNS and become used to seeing many different types of domain name, they may be more receptive to, and demanding of, changes in the .au domain.

You won’t be able to register anythingyouwant.au; there will still be rules on what you can and can’t register, and we will continue to have a regulated .au, which is relatively safe. But if the panel recommendations are accepted, there will be a lot more choice.

The Conversation

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EFA cautiously welcomes action on fair use; calls for halt on ISP copyright code https://www.efa.org.au/2015/08/17/fair-use-copyright-code/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/08/17/fair-use-copyright-code/#comments Sun, 16 Aug 2015 23:47:18 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5776 Continue reading ]]> Cost-benefit analysis of fair use exception

200px-Copyright.svgEFA today cautiously welcomes last week’s announcement from the Attorney-General that he has requested an analysis of the costs and benefits involved in the introduction of a broad, flexible fair use exception into Australian copyright law.

The introduction of a broad, flexible fair use exception was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in its Copyright in the Digital Economy report it provided to the Attorney in December 2013.

EFA strongly supports the introduction of a broad, flexible fair use exception that will introduce much-needed flexibility into Australian copyright law. Australian copyright law is currently outdated not just in relation to technology but also in terms of societal norms. The prevalence of sharing across social media, the importance of remixing in popular culture, and the growth of cloud computing are just three areas where a fair use exception will help to ensure that Australian copyright law can once again become fit for purpose.

EFA Executive Officer Jon Lawrence said today, "while it’s welcome to finally see some action from the Attorney-General on fair use, it's disappointing that it’s taken 20 long months to get to this point. Given that the Attorney has in the interim found time to expedite as yet unused legislation targeted at copyright infringement - the website-blocking bill which became law in June - it's difficult not to be sceptical about the strength of his commitment to positive copyright reform. This analysis could have occurred at any time in the last 18 months. I’m therefore afraid that this announcement may be little more than a stalling tactic to ensure there is no meaningful movement towards reform prior to the next federal election."

ISP copyright code should be halted

The introduction of a number of new Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) services in Australia in the past year has resulted in extraordinarily rapid growth in the number of Australian households with a 'paid' content service. Roy Morgan Research's figures show that the number of Australian households paying for such a service has grown by a massive 30% since the start of 2015.

This explosive growth is addressing pent-up demand from Australian consumers for competitively-priced and timely access to quality legal content. It confirms what EFA and many other informed observers have long asserted - that Australians are only too happy to pay for content when it's readily available at the right time and at the right price.

The government's own research shows that many Australians that engage in online copyright infringement do so because they have no legal avenue for accessing their chosen content.

As availability to content is increasing, the rate of online copyright infringement is therefore likely to be falling.

Meanwhile, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are struggling with the implementation of the government’s mandatory data retention regime and therefore may not be in a position to take on additional regulatory burdens at this time. This is particularly true for smaller, regional providers, some of whom may be facing existential challenges from the regulatory burdens imposed by this government.

EFA Executive Officer Jon Lawrence also said today, "As the market’s rapid evolution addresses the historic lack of timely access to quality content for Australian consumers, the government should halt the implementation of an ISP copyright code to ensure that it is not further burdening the industry with additional unnecessary regulation. ISPs are already reeling from the impact of the government's grossly-inadequate preparation in relation to the new data retention obligations, and may have to soon deal with the impact of the website-blocking legislation. This government needs to stop adding layer upon layer of burdensome regulation on an industry which needs space to innovate to meet the current and future needs of Australian businesses and consumers."

EFA therefore calls on the government to halt the process of implementing an ISP copyright code. Work on this copyright code should not then proceed until the implementation of the new mandatory data retention obligations has been concluded, and also not until the government has conducted a detailed cost-benefit analysis to ensure that it is not an unnecessary additional regulatory burden that will further harm competition in the sector and result in higher connectivity charges for Australians.

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Will TPP set a Copyright Trap? https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/30/tpp-copyright-trap/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/30/tpp-copyright-trap/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:24:46 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5773 Continue reading ]]> This article, by Trish Hepworth from the Australian Digital Alliance was originally published on their website.

copyright-trap-action-3As Ministers gather to nut out the last details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) concerned creators are waiting to see what impact the decision has on their ability to use, reuse and create.

Worries about the extensive intellectual property chapter have mainly focussed on health. But the chapter also covers copyright, proposing ratcheting up the copyright term in the six countries that still hold to the international norm of life of the author plus 50 years.

Australia already extended its copyright term to life of the author plus 70 years as part of the Australian –US free trade agreement. This move has meant that no new works have entered the public domain for 10 years, and none will for another decade. The copyright term extension was estimated to cost $88 million per year and looks likely to have decreased the works available to the Australian public.

The term extension disproportionately affects countries like Australia that have relatively narrow and limited exceptions to copyright. Unlike the USA whose ‘fair use’ exception has allowed the digitisation of library collections, the invention of search engines and appropriation art, Australian creators, industries and cultural institutions are more constrained. A recent movie that explores the consequences of using 2 bars of a children’s song for Australian band Men at Work, shows the narrow ability of Australian artists to build on what has gone before.

Meanwhile even librarians are fed up, trying to cook their way to copyright reform.

You might wonder why Australia, and other countries faced with the ratcheting of copyright terms don’t just introduce fair use. That was certainly the recommendation of the Australian Law Reform Commission in its recent report. But here the TPP may have a nasty surprise, hidden in the investment chapter. Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is a system whereby companies can sue governments for, amongst other things, ‘expropriations’ of their property. This could include reductions to the value of intellectual property from new copyright exceptions.

While the latest leak of the investment chapter suggests that there is a carve-out for IP claims under ISDS, this is only as long as the laws are in compliance with the IP chapter. The IP chapter states that all exceptions must comply with the ‘three step test’. While it is generally accepted that fair use complies with the three step test, no country with fair use has ever been directly challenged. The result is that governments trying to introduce new exceptions, such as fair use, may face legal challenge. Even if the challenge is unlikely to win, the mere threat may be enough to water down proposals.

Australian copyright law is already broken. The TPP has the potential to cement in an overly rigid system that is unable to keep pace with changes in technology and business models. We need to see what’s in the text, and we need to see it now.

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Secret TPP Talks Continue at Luxury Hawaii Hotel https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/30/tpp-talks-hawaii/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/30/tpp-talks-hawaii/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:13:53 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5772 Continue reading ]]> Westin Resort, MauiTrade ministers are meeting behind closed-doors at the Westin Resort and Spa in Maui this week to finalise the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This is the first formal round of talks since the US passed the controversial Fast Track trade legislation in June, which has given US negotiators a renewed sense of determination as they continue to push TPP's corporate-driven mandate on intellectual property and digital regulations.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) seeks to wrap up talks by the end of the week. According to recent reports, the U.S. is still pushing for copyright terms of life plus 70 years, excessive financial damages for infringements, and a host of other provisions that will undermine the public interest.

Officials claim that a final deal could emerge the next few days, but this round of talks has been steeped in controversy. A report from last week revealed how the amount of corporate lobbying money spent on influencing trade policy surged in the last few months. Health organisations have sounded the alarm over patent provisions that would make make medicines more expensive and inaccessible for millions of people. The USTR continues to demand those expansive patent provisions, but it can no longer do so quietly.

At the same time, we worry that the TPP may be trumping concerns about human trafficking and slavery. The final Fast Track legislation included a provision prohibiting trade agreements with countries that have failed to take real action to prevent such practices. For years, the US has challenged Malaysia (among others) for failing to do just that. But Malaysia is also a party to the TPP. We can't help but wonder whether the White House pressured the US State Department to modify Malaysia's ranking and therefore clear the way for the TPP to go on the Fast Track to ratification.

As the negotiations march ahead in Hawaii, public interest representatives are working hard to get the worst provisions out of the TPP. The USTR continues to exclude them. According to one civil society representative, the USTR organised a special briefing for U.S. stakeholders, but only invited industry groups to attend.

In Australia, the secrecy is even worse - the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has recently finally relented to allow federal parliamentarians to view the negotiating text, but only if they sign a four-year non-disclosure agreement.

The TPP undermines users rights and threatens to impose on a range of new countries, including New Zealand, the excessive copyright terms that Australia signed up to in our 'Free' Trade Agreement with the US.

It is also likely to remove the scope for the Australian parliament to reform our archaic and seriously broken copyright law.

We therefore need to see what’s in the text, and we need to see it now. Please support Choice's campaign calling on DFAT to release the text now.

This article, by Maira Sutton, was originally published on EFF's Deeplinks blog. It has been modified slightly for an Australian audience. See the original article.

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European Data Retention Laws: an update https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/29/european-data-retention-laws-update/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/29/european-data-retention-laws-update/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 05:31:10 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5762 Continue reading ]]> This table was produced by Leanne O'Donnell - a senior lawyer and leading legal expert in the communications sector. You can follow Leanne on Twitter: @mslods. See also the original article on her website.

Image: motiqua (flickr)

Image: motiqua (flickr)

The Australian Government looked to the European experience as a model for its data retention scheme, and also claimed the European examples as justifications for our own legislation. As Attorney-General Brandis said in July 2014, data retention ‘is very much the way in which western nations are going’.

This table compares the current situation in Australia with that across the various EU jurisdictions.  As you'll see, the UK is just the latest of many EU countries to strike out data retention laws.

Far from following the trend of other western nations, Australia is therefore moving in the opposite direction.

Data retention – EU experience (updated July 2015)

 

Country Retention Period Authorisation required to access “metadata” Status of Telecommunications Data Retention Regime
Australia 2 years No judicial oversight aside from the problematic ‘journalist information warrant Data retention bill passed by Parliament on 26 March. Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015Implementation information from Attorney-General’s Dept
Austria Ruled unconstitutional
Belgium Between 1 year and 36 months for ‘publically available’ telephone services.No provision for internet-related data. Access must be authorised by a magistrate or prosecutor. Ruled unconstitutional (Commentary)
Bulgaria 1 year.Data which has been accessed may be retained for a further 6months on request. Access only possible on the order of the Chairperson of a Regional Court Ruled unconstitutional in 2008 & again on 12 March 2015 (commentary)
Cyprus 6 months Access must be approved by a prosecutor if he considers it may provide evidence of committing a serious crime. A judge may issue such an order if there is a reasonable suspicion of a serious criminal offence and if the data are likely to be associated with it. Ruled unconstitutional – violated right to privacy
Czech Republic Ruled unconstitutional
Denmark 1 year Access requires judicial authorisation; court orders are granted if application meets strict criteria on suspicion, necessity and proportionality Session logging ceased 2014 (Commentary)
Estonia Access requires permission of a preliminary investigation judge In force
Finland 1 year Subscriber data may be accessed by all competent authorities without judicial authorisation. Other data requires a court order. Under review (Commentary)
Germany 1 year Ruled unconstitutional. Now no mandatory data retention.
Greece 1 year Access requires judicial decision declaring that investigation by other means is impossible or extremely difficult. In force
France 1 year Police must provide justification for each request for access to retained data and must seek authorisation from person in the Ministry of the Interior designated by the Commission nationale de contrôle des interceptions de sécurité. In force
Spain 1 year Access to the data by the competent national authorities requires prior judicial authorisation. Under review
Hungary 6 months for unsuccessful calls and 1 year for all other data Police and the National Tax and Customs Office require prosecutor’s authorisation. Prosecutor and national security agencies may access such data without a court order Further constitutional challenge is being prepared
Italy 2 years for fixed telephony and mobile telephony data,1 year for internet access, internet email and internet telephony data Access requires ‘reasoned order’ issued by the public prosecutor. In force
Lithuania 6 months Authorised public authorities must request retained data in writing.For access for pre-trial investigations a judicial warrant is necessary In force
Latvia 18 months Authorised officers, public prosecutor’s office and courts are required to assess ‘adequacy and relevance’ of request, to record the request and ensure protection of data obtained In force
Luxembourg 6 months Access requires judicial authorisation. Under review
Malta 1 year for fixed, mobile and internet telephony data,6 months for internet access and internet email data Requests must be in writing – Malta Police Force; Security Service In force
Netherlands 1 year – telephony, 6 months internet-related data Access must be by order of a prosecutor or an investigating judge On 11 March 2015, national law was suspended. The decision is a preliminary injunction rendering the obligation ineffective.(Commentary)
Romania (6 months under the earlier annulled transposing law) Ruled unconstitutional
Poland 2 years Requests must be in writing and in case of police, border guards, tax inspectors, authorised by the senior official in the organisation. Under challenge
Portugal 1 year Transmission of data requires judicial authorisation on grounds that access is crucial to uncover the truth or that evidence would be, in any other manner, impossible or very difficult to obtain. The judicial authorisation is subject to necessity and proportional requirements. In force
Slovenia 8 months for internet related and 14 months for telephony related data Access requires judicial authorisation. Ruled unconstitutional. Ordered that data collected under the data retention law be deleted
Slovakia 12 months, 6 months for Internet services Requests must be in writing. Ceased following judgment of European Court of Justice. Records deleted.
Sweden 6 months Subject to judicial challenge (Commentary)
UK 1 year Access permitted, subject to authorisation by a ‘designated person’ and necessity and proportionality test, in specific cases and in circumstances in which disclosure of the data is permitted or required by law. Judicial challenge by MPs successful in July 2015. Key provisions of data retention law ‘disapplied’ – effective March 2016(My post)
Ireland 2 years for fixed telephony and mobile telephony data, 1 year for internet access, internet email and internet telephony data No. Requests to be in writing from police officer/military over specified rank & tax/customs official over specific grade. Under judicial challenge (Follow Digital Rights Ireland)
Switzerland Under challenge
Norway N/A N/A No mandatory data retention regime


Notes

  • Within the EU: 11 Member States require judicial authorisation for each request for access to retained data.
  • Within the EU: In 3 Member States judicial authorisation is required in most cases.
  • Norway and Switzerland are not part of the European Union, but are included here for reference

Further reading

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EFA welcomes ALP decision to review data retention legislation https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/26/efa-welcomes-alp-decision-to-review-data-retention-legislation/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/26/efa-welcomes-alp-decision-to-review-data-retention-legislation/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 09:26:44 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5759 Continue reading ]]> EFA welcomes the Labor Party's decision to adopt an amendment to its platform that calls for a review of the data retention legislation passed in March this year.

As a long-standing opponent of mandatory data retention, EFA remains committed to rolling-back the worst aspects of this legislation, including the unjustifiably long retention period of two years and the routine collection of mobile phone location data. EFA is also committed to extending the warrant requirement for data access to cover the entire population.

EFA Chair David Cake said today, "It's reassuring to see that within the wider ALP there remains an understanding of the importance of meaningful protections for individual privacy, and for the protection of whistle-blowers and other journalists' sources. It's unfortunate however that the party leadership chose to allow this badly flawed legislation to pass the parliament despite these concerns. EFA looks forward to the opportunity to participate in a review of this legislation, should the ALP form government after the next election."

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EFA supports call to avoid criminalisation of cryptologic research https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/15/cryptologic-research-petition/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/15/cryptologic-research-petition/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 10:04:31 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5750 Continue reading ]]> IACR logoEFA supports the call by the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) for amendments to the Defence Trade Controls Act to include clear exemptions for scientific research and for education.

Australia's Defence Trade Controls Act was recently updated and now prohibits the "intangible supply" of encryption technologies, and hence subjects many ordinary teaching and research activities to unclear, potentially severe, export controls.

EFA Chair David Cake said today, "while it is obviously an important technology in the national security context, cryptography is also vital for the privacy and security of individuals, and is critical to commerce in the digital age. Not only is civilian cryptographic research a necessary component of a vibrant digital economy, it is also a vital tool for protection of our privacy against illegal and unethical surveillance and criminal attacks."

EFA believes that the situation created by this legislation is absurd and needs to be rectified urgently. If not, Australia's capacity to deal with future cybersecurity challenges will be severely constrained and a whole category of highly-skilled digital economy jobs will simply not exist in this country.

The IACR petition is available at: https://www.iacr.org/petitions/australia-dtca/

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Happy 25th Birthday, EFF https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/14/happy-25th-birthday-eff/ https://www.efa.org.au/2015/07/14/happy-25th-birthday-eff/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:33:11 +0000 https://www.efa.org.au/?p=5747 Continue reading ]]> EFF25-2A quarter of a century ago this week, ignorance and overreach on the part of government officials led to the founding in San Francisco of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), as an organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting civil liberties in the emerging digital world.

As the first 'digital rights' organisation, EFF has played a central and critical role both within the US and around the globe in holding back the reflexive impulses of governments and some corporations to undermine the open and interoperable nature of the Internet, and to impose controls over the free dissemination of content and ideas. This is a role that EFF continues to play to this day.

EFF was also a primary inspiration for the founding of EFA (Electronic Frontiers Australia), in Adelaide in January 1994.

Although the two organisations have never had any formal relationship, EFA's objectives are very closely aligned with EFF's and the two organisations have maintained an excellent working relationship to this day.

In addition to this relationship, EFF also has a strong track record of hiring excellent Australians, including current staff members Peter Eckersley, Jeremy Malcolm (a former EFA Board Member) and Daniel Nazer.

On behalf of everyone at EFA I'd like to wish our friends at EFF a very happy 25th birthday.

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