Google, Apple, Facebook face world-first encryption laws in Australia: Tech companies can be forced to "build new capabilities" that allow access to encrypted messages.
How was this law sold to the Australian people? I mean, what was the given reason? Terrorism? Is Australia more under threat than most other countries, or does the media portray it that way at least? How did this happen?
Terrorism. As one government minister tweeted - then deleted - during the political debate about this bill yesterday: "[the opposition] has chosen to allow terrorists and paedophiles to continue their evil work in order to engage in point scoring." Supposedly, this is all about preventing terrorist attacks.
We're not being told that Australia is more at threat of terrorism than most countries, only that the threat exists - and that law enforcement agencies need as many powers as possible in order to keep preventing these attacks. There have been a few attacks here which are classed as "terrorist", but they tend to be quite low-tech and with few fatalities or casualities. We have many more arrests of people being accused of planning terrorist attacks than of people carrying out terrorist attacks. Our law enforcement agencies are already doing an excellent job of preventing terrorist attacks on Australian soil, but they keep saying they could do even better with even more powers - and, generally, governments like to give the agencies the powers they say they need.
Politically, our current governing party is the right-wing party which likes to portray itself as tougher on law and order (including border protection and terrorism) than those weak-kneed lily-livered left-wing folks. However, traditionally, security is seen as a bipartisan issue - which means the opposition of the day will usually work with the government of the day on whatever legislation is required. In this case, the nominally left-wing opposition party quibbled over some details of the proposed legislation, but ultimately decided to vote for the bill and try to amend it later, rather than being accused of being weak on terrorism over Christmas, which is a high-risk period.
People don't fucking care. 90% of people in Australia probably never even heard of the law. It will take some massive data breach or other mishap before people will even realize that there is a problem. I kinda thank facebook for being so shitty and getting some headlines.
Stuff like this is why we need to include a basic computer skills class in public schools. It doesn't need to be a full year, maybe even just a unit in a social studies class, since this is a current issue facing the world today.
The problem is that people don't understand encryption, or how the internet works in general. People need to understand the consequences of laws like this and how it can affect all the information that these companies possess. Everyone needs to know why their privacy is important and how it doesn't just affect them–it affects everyone that trusts them.
Despite the press release, I don't think Google or Facebook would bat an eyelid at this if the state came knocking, but I'd love to see Apple stand their ground and flat-out refuse to comply. Maybe just pull iMessage out of the Australian market entirely if push comes to shove. That's not a small proposition but of all companies I could totally see Apple turning this into a media circus like the San Bernadino iPhone situation. They can afford whatever short-term losses might ensue, and the long-term value it generates would probably be a net win.
Given that the law passed Parliament only about 30 hours ago (and wasn't expected to pass at this time), and doesn't yet have royal assent, I highly doubt it.
However, I googled "apple australia encryption" and found this old article for you about Apple's submission to parliament about this proposed legislation. You're welcome.