The Australian government has passed the controversial Access and Assistance Bill 2018 into law. Since it gives authorities the right to demand access to encrypted forms of communication and to slap companies that refuse to cooperate with fines up to $7.3 million, it prompted tech giants like Apple to voice their opposition. Cupertino criticized the vague wording of its current version, pointing out that it gives the government “overly broad powers that could weaken cybersecurity and encryption.”
ZDNet explains that the new law will give the Australian government the power to issue three kinds of notices:
- Technical Assistance Notices: These can require communication providers to use an interception technology they already have.
- Technical Capability Notices: These can require communication providers to build new interception capabilities that can meet the requirements needed to be able to comply with Assistance Notices. Tech giants consider this the most contentious, since it could force them to build tools such as encryption backdoors.
- Technical Assistance Requests: These are, apparently, voluntary requests, which companies can comply with or turn down without the risk of being penalized.