This summer, the government of Australia set forth the specifics of the Assistance and Access Bill of 2018. The purpose of this proposed legislation is to allow a new type of warrant to be issued that would allow those in law enforcement to get around the encryption that is on smart phones so that law enforcement could have access to information on the phone. This information might be used to help located someone who is missing, or it might be used to help law enforcement officers to gather evidence that might lead to the conviction of a criminal.
Tech companies believe that if this bill is passed in Australia, it will mean that encryption on phones will be weakened overall. In the view of many tech companies, this will allow smartphones and other devices to be more easily hacked. It won’t only be law enforcement officers that are more easily able to access information, criminals would also be able to more easily access information and then use that information for nefarious purposes.
Apple is a tech company that has been particularly vocal in its opposition to the Australian bill. Apple believes that at this time encryption on phones and other devices should be made stronger and not weaker. As more and more devices are being hacked, Apple believes that strong encryption will help to solve the increasing problem of crime caused by hackers.
Other governments around the globe are carefully watching how this new legislation plays itself out in the Australian Parliament. The Department of Justice in the United States has tried during the time of many different administrations to develop laws similar to what Australia is trying to pass now. So far, legislation in the United States has met with little success as the big tech companies have been able to stop proposals from progressing. If the bill does pass in Australia, other governments will certainly jump on the bandwagon and pass the same type of legislation.