Financial boss issues warning over Australian government’s new encryption policy

Satyajeet Mara, Director of Policy at the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance has voiced his concern over new data laws that threaten to undermine privacy, civil liberty and consumer safety down under.

Writing for The Hill news website, Mr Mara highlights a continuing struggle between the Australian government against a group of tech companies and consumer rights organisations over an anti-data encryption law currently in the pipeline.

The proposed directives are being considered to enhance national security, but a clear threat to citizens’ liberties has to be considered, Mr Mara argues.

Legalised vulnerability

Leading software giants such as WhatsApp and Facebook will, under the new laws, have to build backdoors into products and services to allow government agencies to access user data on demand and with little or no legal oversight. It’s not yet known whether companies will even be allowed to tell their customers what’s happening, or how their data may be used.

The legislation has serious implications, as messaging services are relied upon to send financial details to pay for online transactions thanks to the robust encryption that popular platforms use to safeguard user data, fight cyber-crime and identity theft.

Reporting on The Hill website, Mr Mara says:

“Weakening encryption might assist the government in spying on suspected criminals, but it is also ripe for exploitation by those seeking sensitive information that can be harnessed from our computers servers and phones.”

“For instance, strong encryption protections, like passcodes, have caused a steep decline in phone thefts. If encryption is weakened, this could be reversed. Encrypted messages and transactions can make a literal life-or-death difference for victims of stalking or domestic violence,” he adds.

Since the introduction of the GDPR, data breach reports have increased significantly in Europe, while global corporations have been in the headlines for data leaks that have sparred with the toughest sanctions the new EU data laws can issue.

Recent hacks suffered by Facebook and Google+, to name just two, illustrate that the global community needs to take a tougher stance on data security, not build vulnerabilities into our most used and trusted social media platforms.

Mr Mara also points out that Australia’s fining of companies for potential non-compliance will come as an insufferable burden to the nation’s many start-ups, for whom financial penalties would simply be too much. In the interim, fewer innovations would be created in the crucial sector of data protection.

In defence of the bill, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says action is needed to create quick access to user content to enable the government to combat terrorism and human trafficking.

European Data Protection Summit will take place on June 3rd in Central London and will play host to 800 DPO’s, Security Professionals and senior business decision makers looking for; information, updates, clarity, advice and solutions. For more information, visit the website.

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