Encryption laws will fuel multinationals’ withdrawal warns AIIA

Encryption laws will fuel multinationals’ withdrawal warns AIIA

Global AIIA members mulling Australia withdrawal over existing compliance obligations

Australia’s controversial encryption laws will see multinational technology companies withdraw their services from the country, IT industry body the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has warned.

The AIIA indicated its global members are considering pulling out of the market because the so-called 'encryption bill' is at odds with contractual and legislative compliance obligations to customers overseas.

This would result in the Australian private and public sectors losing access to those technologies covered by the definition of 'Designated Communication Provider' (DCP) in the Act, the association stated.

In its committee submission, the AIIA urged the Government to “monitor the impact” of business withdrawal from the Australian market on the cyber security “integrity” of public agencies and enterprises. 

It claimed the laws do not allow for overseas reach due to foreign law compliance obligations to customers in other jurisdictions.

Passed in December last year, the Assistance and Access Act was designed to allow intelligence agencies more power to access encrypted conversations. The law is now subject to a mandatory review by a parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security.

The AIIA also maintained that the legislation will have a “negative impact” Australian IT firms’ ability to “innovate and export its expertise”. 

According to the body, Australian-based products and services captured by the act are at risk of being perceived as less secure. 

In addition, AIIA argued the laws were “inconsistent” with the Government’s commitment to supporting IT export opportunities for Australian companies.

The Assistance and Access Act was passed hurriedly passed last year despite opposition from global tech companies like Facebook, Google, Oath and Twitter.

According to the AIIA, amendments added to the law in February “have done little to ease industry concerns regarding the potential impact of this legislation”.    

AIIA counts a number of major global giants within its membership, noting Google, IBM and Microsoft in its submission, as well as local companies like Australian Data Centres, Canberra Data Centre and Data#3. 

“The proposed amendments should be subject to comprehensive scrutiny and consultation with industry, privacy and security experts,” CEO Ron Gauci said.

“The concerns that have been repeatedly expressed by the AIIA in this context are not isolated; there is broad consensus across the ICT industry on the potential adverse effects this legislation could have for Australian business and economic interests,” he added.

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