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Tech companies unite against Australia"s encrypted data demands

Luana PASCU

October 04, 2018

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Tech companies unite against Australia"s encrypted data demands

The US is not the only country asking tech giants to allow access to encrypted customer data for fear of terror attacks. In the following weeks, Australia”s parliament will cast votes on proposed data encryption legislation that requires companies give access to user data if under suspicion of terrorism or illegal activities. Should they refuse to give broad access to private user data, companies would face up to $7.2 million in fines, decided the government in August.

The US and Australia are two of the Five Eyes nations, together with Canada, New Zealand and Britain. The countries have complained in the past that anonymity and digital encryption favor communication between suspects so current legislation is meant to force companies to hand over data in situations where national security is at risk.

Global tech companies Facebook, Apple, Alphabet and Amazon have joined forces with lobbyists to fight back and rectify the bill, as weaker encryption may open a backdoor to user data and jeopardize overall cybersecurity, writes Reuters.

Australia”s home affairs minister did not comment on the initiative.

In New Zealand, on the other hand, the Customs and Excise Act 2018 came into effect. This means border officials can request visitors give access to their devices” passwords, encryption keys and PINs. Cloud services would not be affected. Refusal, however, would bring a $3.232 fine.

“If the person has no reasonable excuse for failing to comply with [handing over your password], the person commits an offence, and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000,” reads the Act.

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