ACCAN has made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). The Assistance and Access Bill seeks to amend current legislation to facilitate access by law enforcement agencies to the content of stored communications, such as texts, emails and call data.

ACCAN has expressed serious concerns about the Bill, alongside many other Australian and global stakeholders, including those from the telecommunications industry, technology sector, human rights and consumer organisations. In its current form the Bill will provide access to consumers’ data without their knowledge or adequate judicial oversight. The Bill will act to weaken encryption systems by forcing technology companies, device manufacturers, and other relevant parties, to build into their software and systems an entry-point (or backdoor) to encrypted data.

ACCAN understands the legitimate need for law enforcement agencies to access encrypted information. This process can and should be both effective and proportionate, with adequate oversight to ensure that facilitating access does not undermine the security and privacy of the internet and its users, most of whom are law-abiding citizens.

ACCAN is particularly concerned about the detrimental impacts the Bill will have on consumers’ privacy. While the intent of the Bill is to enhance the government’s national security powers to gather and collect more information for the purposes of public safety and protecting national security, in creating backdoors malicious third parties may gain easier access to encrypted information, such as bank details, health records, and personal communications. This is particularly concerning in light of the fact that consumers rely on and use their phones and the internet on unprecedented levels.

ACCAN has supported the submission made by Internet Australia and urged the PJCIS to allow further consultation on the Assistance and Access Bill to ensure that the Bill provides adequate privacy safeguards for citizens, while allowing law enforcement agencies legitimate access to information directly relevant to matters of public safety . Consumer interests and privacy must be given adequate consideration and the Bill must include safeguards to protect personal privacy and safety.

Download:  docxReview of Assistance and Access Bill100.76 KB
Download:  pdfReview of Assistance and Access Bill597.3 KB