Our technology sector is under threat
Current Government legislation is stifling our industry’s ability to grow and forcing companies and technology workers to move offshore. Federal politicians have passed a series of laws that undermine the technology sector at the very time when we should be bolstering this sector.
In the dying days of Parliament in 2018, both major parties supported the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act. This legislation affects products that use data encryption, which is used in a vast array of digital systems, from banking to the energy grid to public transport systems.
Ostensibly to aid Australian spy agencies to track illegal activity, this legislation forces any company under Australian jurisdiction to build secret modifications into their products, compromising their security. The legislation allows agencies to directly seize information from devices and to access more data they previously were able to using warrants.
Metadata for all Australian telecommunication and mobile interactions are now being collected and can be accessed by federal agencies as a result of legislation that came into effect in 2017. Metadata is information about online and telephone interactions, including phone numbers, website URLs accessed and the date, time and duration of calls and page views.
The federal government laws force telecommunications companies and internet service providers to hold and store the data for two years.
Impact on Australian workers
The impact of both of these new pieces of legislation mean companies operating or based in Australia are not able to act in the best interest of their customers, or guarantee their privacy. Overall cybersecurity and the human rights of Australians using the internet are both being undermined.
Australian companies are already reporting that they are losing overseas contracts for clients who no longer feel confident to use products impacted by the legislation. The international reputation of the Australian technology industry has been significantly undermined and opportunities for growth curtailed.