Tech giant Apple has slammed a newly drafted Australian surveillance bill, warning that it will weaken the nation’s cyber security defences.
Apple has also been joined by fellow tech companies, including Cisco and Mozilla, in its opposition to the bill, launching a submission to a parliamentary inquiry on the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018.
The contentious bill compels businesses to assist law enforcement and intelligence agencies “in relation to encryption technologies, via the issuing of technical assistance requests, technical assistance notices and technical capability notices.”
The amendment was initially proposed to the House of Representatives on 20 September and referred to the Committee for inquiry and a report by the Attorney-General’s office.
Apple argues the bill is “dangerously ambiguous” in its wording and composition, with the potential to undermine existing encrytion-based cyber security regimes.
“Encryption is the single best tool we have to protect data and ultimately lives,” Apple argued in its submission.
“Software innovations of the future will depend on the foundation of strong device security. To allow for those protections to be weakened in any way slows our pace of progress and puts everyone at risk.”
Mozilla, the developers of the Firefox web browser, has also suggested the Assistance and Access Bill is intentionally vague on the “form and extent of what might be compelled by a TCN (technical capability notice)”.
“Software innovations of the future will depend on the foundation of strong device security. To allow for those protections to be weakened in any way slows our pace of progress and puts everyone at risk,” the company said in a statement.
An initial public hearing is expected to be held on 19 October 2018.