Encryption committee caught in crossfire as debate flares

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Encryption committee caught in crossfire as debate flares

Don’t buckle to govt pressure, says industry.

Eight industry associations have implored a joint committee examining encryption-busting laws not to “bow to government pressure” to cut their examination short.

The associations - which include the Australian Industry Group, Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Communications Alliance and Internet Australia - said it was “crucial” that enough time is afforded to fixing the bill’s “well-documented flaws”.

“There is a need for cool heads to prevail, accompanied by detailed analysis of the impact on Australians and Australian businesses, and for lawmakers to approach this important task systematically while following due parliamentary process,” Internet Australia chair Paul Brooks said in a joint statement.

The joint statement came after both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton put public pressure on the committee to wrap up early so the proposed laws could be rammed through parliament more quickly.

Morrison’s comments came today and sought passage of the proposed laws within the next fortnight.

The government has also been trying to force Labor to back the passage of the bill; so far, however, Labor has indicated it is willing to slow the debate over encryption if it means getting the proposed laws right.

"The parliament’s bipartisan approach to national security does not extinguish our capacity to have robust and constructive debates," shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland told an industry forum in October.

Others, such as University of Melbourne cryptographic researcher Dr Vanessa Teague have renewed opposition to the bill as it stands in the wake of attempts by the government to hurry it along.

“Without even a definition of systemic weakness, the Assistance and Access bill in its current form is more likely to undermine our security than protect it,” Dr Teague tweeted.

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