Australia has just passed a dangerous anti-encryption law after there's been a compromise between the two different political giants. Now I don't normally get into political stuff because I find it boring and contradictory a lot of the time, but this is something that's going to affect every single person, especially if you're an Australian business.
What's Going On?
In short, what the bill does is that it grants Australian police the ability to issue a notice or ensure a way of forcing a company, or a website that's operating within our borders to aid the government in hacking, implementing malware, and undermining encryption that exists. If you refuse, you can be faced with financial penalties. Now, the way the law reads is that it's only meant to target serious offenders such as sex offenders, terrorists, homicide people, and drug offences. I'm all for that, but the problem is, as critics have pointed out, that the law could target anyone.
Why it Affects Us
As the famous Benjamin Franklin said, people willing to trade their freedom for security will receive neither, and this bill was only just passed last month in December 2018. It puts us in a bit of a funny position as a tech company, because if we were contacted by the police and asked to aid in the investigation of one of our clients we would be up to our ears in financial problems if we don't do it.
How it Could Affect You
Similarly, if you guys are dealing with anyone that might be a bit "how you going" you will be in the same spot. Now obviously everyone that we know, hopefully, isn't doing any dodgy so it shouldn't be a problem. In saying that, the bill has been intentionally vague and it contradicts itself multiple times.
There is the chance that even if you're doing even the smallest of silly things, such as copying your competitor's information, modifying it a little bit and chucking it on your site you could be in trouble. This is enough of a reason for the government to start looking into your affairs and grabbing information from third parties.
This could ultimately bring you down and you could be looking at a $250,000 fine for copyright.
Use a VPN
This is something that's really, really important and it's not discussed publicly and when it should be. What I would suggest you all to do, even if you're not doing anything dodgy, is putting in what's called a VPN, that's a virtual private network. What it does is it makes sure that all of your data from whatever the terminal that you're at, be it your phone or your computer, will be sent from that location in an encrypted form to a second location. This means it could show that you are in New Zealand or America or any other country where they don't have this bill, and then it goes out and onwards to the world.
The important reason why you'd want to do this is it means that your ISP can't snoop in on the traffic that you're doing. As I said, no one does anything dodgy here in Australia. That's why we're not the number one place that has had the most amount of illegally downloaded movies (wink wink). So if you were to be doing any of those sorts of activities, make sure that you have a VPN in place.
Obviously, I'm not condoning doing those things, and the main reason we are the number one place is that our internet service providers don't stream fast enough for Netflix and other services to work reliably.
Remember the Consequences
What's important here is to know that now that this bill has been passed, we as a nation can legally be spied on without any information from yourself and all the information fed to the police and the government. If you're doing everything right and everything's fine, that's great. If you're doing anything that's a little bit dodgy, you should already know all the things that you should be putting in place, but if you're doing everything right and everything's fine, you still don't want to be caught in the trap that someone makes a mistake. The government, as you know, it's prone to making mistakes and other problematic things. The government wants to get its eyes in on you and that's why this bill has been passed. Both sides of government have come together to have this passed. It's a big advantage to them, but not so much the general public.
It's interesting when we have the government spend millions and millions of dollars on sending out a pamphlet asking us to vote on marriage equality and were not able to vote on something like the security of everyone. It's a little hard to talk about, but nevertheless something that needs to be mentioned. Protect your own online security!
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