Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is hoping to ram encryption-busting laws through parliament “next week”, despite the bill still being stuck before a joint committee.
Dutton attacked Labor on Sky News this morning, claiming they were using the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) inquiry on the bill to “delay and obfuscate” its progress.
Dutton called on Labor to publicly declare its position on the bill, claiming the need for the laws is “now urgent”.
“Bill Shorten has to stand up and say whether he supports these laws or not,” he said.
“Mr Shorten should come out and say he will support these laws through the parliament next week because at the moment we don’t know Labor’s position and we need to get this resolved sooner than later.”
Dutton reportedly told Sky News in the same interview that he had asked the committee to cut short its public consultation.
It has so far held two public hearings on the bill, and has a further three scheduled over the next fortnight.
But significant concerns remain about the bill’s broad-brush approach and far-reaching powers.
Telstra is worried that proposed decryption laws could break equipment and software it relies on and increase the risk of confidential details of its network operations falling into the wrong hands.
The laws would make it the “weakest link” in the Five Eyes alliance and therefore a “funnel” for international requests for data, the Law Council of Australia has warned.
Australia's Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) has expressed worries that the bill contains overly powerful immunities which will be open to abuse.
Apple, Cisco, Salesforce and other vendors also oppose the bill.
Since the bill was introduced, Home Affairs has also said it is after more than just encryption circumvention, hoping to use the powers also to compel the handover of PINs and passwords.