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Assistance and Access Bill could undermine Aussie companies' reputation

Assistance and Access Bill could undermine Aussie companies' reputation

The Australian Information Industry Association fears international reputation could be compromised

Credit: Dreamstime

The Assistance and Access Bill passed on 6 December, is still a concern to Australian technology companies.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has stated it is "disappointed" that some of the amendments brought forward were not passed, in fact, according to a report from Innovation Australia, were not even discussed.

According to AIIA, the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 has the potential to undermine the reputation of Australian technology businesses both locally and in international markets.

"Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups may very well find themselves locked out of overseas markets with their products being viewed as untrustworthy," said the AIIA. 

The Bill is already being discussed worldwide with The New York Times writing a story questioning whether Australia's new legislation had "hurt phone security around the world" on 22 January.

The lack of clarity on the definition of some terms in the Bill could have a negative impact on multinational and Australian technology companies, according to AIIA.

“The Act is likely to negatively impact the competitiveness of Australian software and hardware manufacturers in international markets," said Ron Gauci, CEO of AIIA. "We believe this could result in declining employment and export revenue, and consequently a significant reduction in local R&D and manufacturing."

The AIIA's disappointment increases with the fact that the next time the subject will be discussed in the senate will take place in April competing with time allocated by Parliament for the Federal Budget.

“We need to ask how the legislation will impact on the exportability of Australian ICT products and services – there is a real risk they will be perceived as less secure than those in other jurisdictions," Gauci said.

"We are particularly concerned that Australian SMEs and start-ups – those companies that form the backbone of Australia’s economy – will be locked out of global markets as trust in their products is compromised."

AIIA's biggest concerns are over clarifying the definitions of ‘systemic weakness/vulnerability’ and ‘target technology’, and ensuring judicial oversight over the issuance of Technical Assistance Notices (TAN) and Technical Capability Notices (TCN).


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Tags governmentAIIAAssistance and Access Bill

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