The Assistance and Access Bill passed by the Australian Government has sent ripples of shock through the world of cybersecurity and privacy. According to this bill, every tech company in Australia is now under an obligation to hand over user data to the Australian government and law enforcement agencies when required. Even the end-to-end encrypted data must also be made available to law enforcement.
Arguably the best web-based email provider FastMail, an Australian company, recently revealed that their employees are worried that they may be forced to create a backdoor into customer emails, causing FastMail to lose customers.
The Australian Government had passed the Assistance and Access Bill on December 6th, 2018 and on December 9th December 2018, it had gotten the Royal Assent and became a law. Ever since its implication, many people have started to call this law an ‘anti-encryption law.’
All the tech companies from Australia are required by law to involve in actions that will hamper the privacy of the individuals of the country. They are now pushed into creating backdoors into the encryption to let the law enforcement system gain access to private data.
When such backdoors are placed in what was supposed to be end-to-end encrypted system, the user data is no longer completely encrypted and is more likely to be targeted cyber attacks.
By passing this law, Australia is weakening the privacy of its people and is making them more prone to cyber attacks. This bill can potentially lead to loss of employment for Australians as many tech companies will plan on discontinuing their business and operations in Australia.
The bill was met with severe opposition from the people of Australia and the global tech community. It only passed when the Labor party decided to support the bill at the last moment. When announcing their support for the bill, the Labor party has asked for certain amendments in the bill that need to be debated in 2019.
If such amendments are not made by the governing party, there might be some level of uncertainty with the future of The Assistance and Access Bill.