The Australian Parliament has passed a law requiring all tech companies to hand over encrypted data if requested to do so by the police. That’s what Silicon Angle reports. The law has been widely criticised by privacy campaigners.

The government states that the law is necessary to fight organised crime and terror, to make Australia safer. “However, critics argue that the law can be abused and the privacy of Australians can be compromised as a result.

Weaken Encryption

The law requires tech companies to build functions that give access to the encrypted data. If, as a result, ‘systematic vulnerabilities’ are created which jeopardise the security of others, companies do not have to do so. At the moment there is a debate on what constitutes a systematic vulnerability.

“The question has always been whether, by targeting an individual user, they accidentally compromise everyone’s safety,” says Vanessa Teague, an expert in cryptography at the University of Melbourne.

Apple said in a letter to parliament that weakening encryption is not necessary to help the police. “Over the past five years, we have processed 26,000 requests from Australian intelligence investigators to help investigate, prevent and resolve crime,” the company said.

Penalty

According to the law, any individual who doesn’t hand over the data can end up in prison. Companies can be fined up to 10 million Australian dollars. However, the Law Council of Australia states that the law was passed in a hurry. “We now have a situation where unprecedented powers to access encrypted communications are now a law,” said President Morry Bailes.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.