Australian tech law ‘self-inflicted wound’

A multi-billion-dollar Australian company has warned new encryption-busting laws had given the local tech industry a “self-inflicted wound”.

Atlassian’s head of government affairs, Patrick Zhang, said laws forcing tech companies to decrypt secure data were intrusive and lacked oversight.

The current laws force companies to create ways to decrypt user data on their systems for Australian police and security agencies.

But tech giants have warned such a back door would make their systems too vulnerable.

Mr Zhang told parliament’s security and intelligence committee, Atlassian customers in Europe were already worried.

“(The laws) must also not create self-inflicted wounds for industry as it looks to secure customer data in today’s challenging cybersecurity environment,” he said on Monday.

“That has given a number of our customers concern (and) that has given the technology industry at large concern.”

Mr Zhang said companies feared the Australian laws would create a weak link in their global operations.

He said Atlassian wants to see more independent oversight of the scheme.

Businesses should also be able to appeal requests to access data, Mr Zhang said.

He said the tech sector was worried that the Australian laws might put them at odds with laws in other countries where they operate.

Mr Zhang said authorities should only be allowed to access data under the laws for more serious offences, with the current law allowing police to request data for offences that attracted at least three years in prison.

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