Here we go again: PJCIS opens review of Australia’s encryption laws
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has begun accepting submissions for its review of Australia’s newly-minted encryption laws.
The review is tied to the amendments carried on the last day of Parliament for 2018, when Labor utterly capitulated, removed its own amendments, and allowed the law to pass through the Senate unamended. The government successfully had its 67 pages of amendments added to the Bill in the lower house.
“The Committee reached bipartisan agreement in its report on the Assistance and Access Bill,” PJCIS chair Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, and Deputy chair Labor’s Anthony Byrne said in a statement.
“This review will focus on the final act as passed by the Parliament on 6 December 2018, with specific reference to government amendments — including those made to effect the committee’s bipartisan recommendations — made on that date.”
The committee must report back by April 3, 2019, and added that its upcoming review of Australia’s data retention laws will also include looking at the encryption laws, and is set to begin in April, and be completed by April 2020.
Last week, Signal said its application’s design and open sourcing made it impossible to backdoor the messaging app.
“The end-to-end encrypted contents of every message and voice/video call are protected by keys that are entirely inaccessible to us,” said Signal developer Joshua Lund said.
“Everything we do is open source and anyone is free to verify or examine the code for each release.”
Speaking last Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed that the government will not accept all of Labor’s amendments to its encryption Bill.
Labor passed the bill on the proviso that its amendments would be passed in the new year.
“I wasn’t prepared to walk away from my job and leave matters in a stand off and expose Australians to increased risk in terms of national security,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said at the time.
“Once the government ran away from the Parliament, at that point I thought we need to get to a sensible conclusion.”
However, Dutton said the government would only accept amendments that are consistent with the recommendations of the PJCIS.
“Labor can try and water it down through whatever means they like — [Shadow Attorney-General] Mark Dreyfus tried all sorts of games to prevent it from coming on in the Parliament — and ultimately, Labor got caught out,” he told reporters.
“This is a very important Bill, a very important law. I hope that Labor can get over their attempts to block it.”
The controversial Assistance and Access Bill was 176 pages long, then 67 pages of amendments were rushed through in the final hours of debate. This is what we’ve ended up with.
Claims that the new laws will drive tech companies offshore are flawed, according to ASD Director-General Mike Burgess.
Peter Dutton has indicated that the federal government will not accept all of the Labor opposition’s proposed changes to its new encryption laws.
A cryptographer’s rebuttal to a GCHQ interception concept highlights how participants in the encryption-busting debate are talking past each other. What even is a “systemic weakness”, anyway?
Government ministers have taken to the airwaves over the weekend to claim Labor is playing games with the proposed Assistance and Access Bill.
If an Australian company is compelled by legislation to deny that a capability in its products exists, then its assertions are meaningless, security company Senetas has said.