New Australian Anti-Encryption Law Creates Controversy as Crypto Benefits Rise into Discussion


The spate of attack on cryptocurrency continues, with Australia joining the fray. This is particularly concerning considering that the sector is going through a lot of volatility, as well as increasing complaints from crypto investors concerning data insecurity.

The US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently launched a scathing attack on some ‘defaulting’ crypto exchanges, issuing serious sanctions that many have considered to be investment repelling and business killing.

While investors and crypto evangelists are still battling these issues, reports coming from Australia suggest that the crypto business could be up against another challenge, as the country’s lower legislative arm has issued a regulatory policy that could potentially affect crypto trading and exchange in the country.

The report claims that the Australian government has passed into law, a somewhat controversial anti-encryption bill, which authorizes law enforcement agencies to forcefully access sensitive consumer data.

Hitherto. access to consumers’ encrypted data mostly used by technology companies and social applications are restricted and kept from civil or government interference.

According to its December 10 report, The Hacker News said that the Australian government has empowered its law enforcement authorities to have unhindered access to data encrypted by these tech companies and exclusive to its users.

Telecommunications Assistance And Access Bill 2018

The bill, which is called the “Telecommunications Assistance and Access Bill 2018,” is designed to empower law enforcers with the power to mandate social networks to provide certain sensitive data and information.

Consequently, social network companies like Google, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal, and so on, can be approached by civil authorities to demand for encrypted customer data and other encrypted means of communication.

Australia’s House of Representatives, which represents the country’s body charged with the responsibility for the passage of the bill into act believes such law will help improve national security.

The legislative body is also of the opinion that the new rule will reduce general crime rate, as well as cutting down on malpractice, child trafficking, money laundering, internet fraud, smuggling, drug trafficking, and crimes related to data misuse and identity theft.

The passage of the bill was massively supported by the house’s majority, with members of both the Coalition and Labor parties voting en masse to show their support and solidarity against what could be called a ‘gang-up’ against national security.

The Three Areas Concern

Although no one can accurately determine how far reaching the application of the new rule will be, many have insinuated that Australian law enforcement authorities could have power to access the privacy and personal rights of Australians, investors and immigrants.

What is expected of every individual is to study the new rule and get acquainted with its specifics, especially as it concerns the three subsections the implementation of the law is certainly going to take.

There is Technical Assistance Request section which orders technology companies to take out all features like ‘electronic protection’ from their system. This removal order will include ‘provision of technical information, putting personal data in a particular encrypted format, installing software, among others.

The second subsection of the law is concerned with Technical Assistance Notice which mandates technology companies to provide more practical, feasible, reasonable and proportionate assistance to authorities in Australia, if they require the decryption of encrypted communications in extreme circumstances.

The third aspect of the rule called the Technical Capability Notice (TCN) requires companies to build new tech that will provide law enforcers to access decrypted communications.

Is Blockchain Being Killed Indirectly?

It does not seem so. Although following the mandate of the new rule, technology companies, including blockchain startups and firms, will have to redesign their innovations and build a set of new system that will comply strictly with the rules.

The new rule will require that online and digital markets such blockchain technology, and decentralized applications (dApps) comply with strict regulatory policies.

While this may seem worrisome, it’s possible that there’ll probably be no indiscriminate demand for or release of information. All process from both parties has to transparent and compliant with the law.

The law comes with huge penalties for violators, especially companies who refuse to provide relevant customer information when requested for by Australian authorities. There are critical stakeholders who will continue to expand awareness on increased need to protect personal data and ensure privacy policy is not violated.

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