Australian government to impose encryption-cracking bill with Labor’s support


Australian government to impose encryption-cracking bill with Labor’s support

Mike Head

6 December 2018

After days of intensive backroom collaboration, the opposition Labor Party today sought to assist the crisis-wracked Liberal-National Coalition government to push through encryption-cracking and computer-accessing laws during the final hours of this year’s last parliamentary session.

Labor’s support for the bill, with only token amendments, will hand extraordinary powers to the spy and police forces, setting a global precedent that has been demanded by the US intelligence and military establishment.

The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 will allow an array of state and federal agencies, including the Australian Border Force, to access encrypted and other privacy-protected communications, including WhatsApp or iMessage conversations.

They also will be able to secretly hack into and manipulate people’s computers—a power currently reserved for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the domestic political spy agency.

This is a fundamental attack on basic democratic rights, including privacy, free speech and the right to organise, especially against the corporate and political establishment. It is part of an escalating barrage of measures designed to suppress dissent and social unrest.

By helping Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government fast-track the slightly amended bill—allowing almost no public debate in parliament—the Labor Party sent two clear signals to the ruling capitalist class.

The first is that the Labor leaders will try to prop up this government until it calls a federal election, either in March or May, in an effort to stabilise the increasingly loathed and discredited…

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