Reverse Amendments to the Assist and Access Bill 2018

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Internet freedom has been enjoyed by Australians since the internet has been available. FreedomHouse rates Australia as "free" when it comes to internet freedom and gives our country a score of 21/100 (0 being most free). The Australian Government has generally stayed out of our lives on the internet and has allowed us to access a free and open web with very little boundaries with the exception of illegal content (which is understandable). Australians also utilise various encrypted messaging services like iMessage, WhatsApp, and many more. Encrypted messaging has given us the ability to share information, data, and general conversation in a secure format. Encrypted services are also used by online banking websites, virtual private networks (VPNs), and companies like Google to keep us safe online.

The amendments to the Assist and Access Bill, just passed in Parliament, gives Australian Law Enforcement and security agencies the ability to force tech companies to build back-doors or vulnerabilities in their encrypted systems for Australian agencies to extract data from criminal's or terrorist's private chats. For transparency, no, this bill does not require the back-doors to exist forever, nor does it prevent companies from fixing future vulnerabilities in their services. However, it allows companies to create backdoors into their services that are used by millions of Australians. Of course, companies like Apple could take an extremely cautious procedure to prevent the back-doors from being leaked or available to others, what it doesn't stop is the human brain remembering how it is done. Even if a back-door is made, and fully erased from all devices, it can't be erased from a person's memory. What is stopping those developers from doing home and recreating this back-door? What is stopping them from selling the code to the highest bidder? What is stopping China or Russia from getting their hands on this? Forcing private companies to create back-doors into their services creates too many what if's? Another interesting point is that politicians are exempt from having their data retrieved, hmmm, that's slightly suspicious?

These amendments were rushed through Parliament this Thursday without much thought or debate. An amendment that allows encryption to be broken is not something that should be passed at the last minute. Of course, the Morrison government claims that this is only for the safety of Australians from terrorism or crime, what it doesn't mention is that encryption is one of the best ways to protect against terrorism and crime. Every security agency's servers use encryption, your iPhone uses encryption, so does your laptop, and so does most other smart devices you own. Encryption prevents your data from being taken and used against you if your device is in the wrong hands. Encryption is not a bad thing, however, the extremely small minority always seem to ruin it for us.

Sign this petition to encourage politicians to debate these amendments when Parliament resumes, and potentially have these amendments reversed to protect Australian's privacy and online safety.