Australia’s new Encryption Law Creates Controversy


In the early December 2018, an extremely controversial bill was passed by the Parliament of Australia. The bill was termed as the Assistance and Access Bill by the legislation has been passed with the support of the Australian Labour Party was previously under opposition. The law has successively made several international headlines for a number of reasons as it involves digital rights, technology, privacy and encryption. In general, the Australian government wants access to the encrypted messages although the actual legislation is quite complex and has been criticized as invasive widely. Despite of the controversy, the actual legislation did push the bill through in a hurry before the commencement of the holiday season. It is quite understandable why exactly the law enforcement agencies are desperate to have access to the encrypted messages.

The cropping up of the technology with encryption and several notable platforms such as Signal, WhatsApp and Wickr, the users are able to encrypt the messages with ease and undoubtedly prevent the law enforcement from gaining the access to those messages. Obviously, it cannot be denied that for the law enforcement agencies who can actually obtain the warrants this particular step can be a real hindrance during any ongoing investigations. The new law currently allows the Australian law  enforcement to not only monitor the communications but to obtain the technological assistance from service providers in regard to these communications.

This has quickly caught the attention of the human rights organizations. The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a detailed statement has pointed out that the bill essentially eradicates the privilege of the self-incrimination. The bill does though to an extension compromise in the sense that companies cannot be asked to build vulnerability into their systems to permit this kind of monitoring that could potentially cause uproar from those who do believe in privacy rights.


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