A group of eight associations have called on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to not make a rushed decision on the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018.
This was a response to Prime Minister Scott Morrison f after he "insisted" that the PJCIS cut short its inquiry into the Assistance and Access bill, also known as the Encryption bill, and that it be passed within the next fortnight.
The associations in question are the Australian Industry Group, Australian Information Industry Association, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Communications Alliance, DIGI, Information Technology Professionals Association, Internet Australia and IoT Alliance Australia.
“The Encryption Bill stands to have major consequences for millions of Australians, their confidential data, and on businesses that will be captured by the proposed bill. Therefore, it is crucial that lawmakers give the bill serious consideration and work with stakeholders to fix its well-documented flaws,” said Internet Australia chair, Paul Brooks.
“There is a need for cool heads to prevail, accompanied by detailed analysis of the impact on Australians and Australian businesses, and for law makers to approach this important task systematically while following due Parliamentary process."
Kishwar Rahman, general manager of policy from the Australian Information Industry Association, said that the flow-on impact of the proposed legislation on Australian industry competing in a global market needs to be given proper consideration.
Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox said that the potential impacts of the proposed legislation extend well beyond multinational technology businesses, and perhaps beyond what may be intended.
Digital Rights Watch’s Lizzie O’Shea believes that Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton are conflating terrorism with encryption and this is "dangerous and wrong".
"Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have considerable powers at their disposal to deal with the threat of terrorism and there is currently no evidence that strong encryption has hampered their efforts to do their job."
“In demanding a truncated timetable for this Bill, the government is disrespecting the Australian people and treating parliamentary process with complete contempt,” said O’Shea.
The Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 20 September and referred to the Committee for inquiry and report by the Attorney-General. An initial public hearing took place on 19 October 2018 and the next one is scheduled for 26 November.