Emails need to be in by Monday 10 September 2018. There is no format or minimum response, and the more direct submissions they receive the better the chances they will listen (you’d hope).
We've been asking for two years to see the legislation, and having only four weeks to respond is frustrating. The legislation runs over 200 pages, it’s broad, and it’s complicated.
By all accounts the Government has spoken to big tech companies before making this legislation public. We all know that the big companies will be fine, especially the multinational tech companies with massive budgets and great lawyers who will only do what they need to do. What about the rest us? There has been no consultation despite years of asking. It’s hard not to feel cynical about the Government’s intent.
This legislation will shape the landscape of technology development in Australia and the effects will be felt for decades to come. We need encryption if we are going to safely store, share, and provide services for private data. These laws will weaken security for all Australians by undermining the very technologies we use to keep us safe. These laws will affect how Australia is viewed internationally, and we have already seen people sharing online warnings for those travelling to Australia for business.
The Federal Government has consistently shown that it is not open to scrutiny or external oversight, and that it will push forward with technology choices that are flawed, unjust and hurt people. My Health Record, Centrelink’s Robo-debt, the Senate inquiry into digital delivery, and CensusFail are all evidence of a Government that gets digital so wrong.
The proposed laws greatly expand the powers of law enforcement and other agencies to gain access to the private data of Australians, undermining the digital security they depend on to do their banking, buy things online, and to communicate with their friends. While the government attempts to characterise these new powers as not providing a ‘backdoor’ that is precisely what they do.
EFA is greatly concerned by the wide powers granted by these laws, and the lack of independent oversight of their use. These laws represent yet another major reduction in Australians’ digital rights using scaremongering about terrorism and crime to justify more power in the hands of unaccountable government agencies.
EFA previously joined with AccessNow and 76 other organisations in urging Parliament not to undermine encryption but clearly more is needed. EFA calls on all Australians to tell the government that digital rights are human rights and they must be protected.
For advice on how to make a submission, go to https://www.efa.org.au/get-involved/making-a-submission
For more information about the bill, go to https://efa.org.au/blog-on-assistance-and-access-bill
To show your support for a secure Australia, sign the petition at https://secureaustralia.org.au/
Further Reading: Australian human rights lawyer Lizzie O’Shea made the New York Times Opinion section with Australia Wants to Take Government Surveillance to the Next Level
From Digital Rights Watch: Defend Encryption in Australia
Great blog post: Assistance and Access Bill 2018 Analysis