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Government urged to expedite encryption Bill


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 27 November, 2018


Government urged to expedite encryption Bill

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have briefed the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in support of the Minister of Home Affairs' urgent request for the committee to expedite passing the controversial encryption Bill.

The committee yesterday held four hours of top secret classified briefings from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police, the Australian Signals Directorate and the Department of Home Affairs itself.

This was followed by two hours of public hearings with the same agencies.

In a joint statement, Committee Chair Andrew Hastie and Deputy Chair Anthony Byrne said the committee continues to actively consider the request to expedite the approvals process, and will issue a notification of any schedule changes after it considers the evidence that was presented.

Home Minister Peter Dutton has been pressuring the committee to clear the legislation before the end of the year's parliamentary sitting term, accelerating the approvals timeline. But this proposal has been vigorously opposed by industry.

The controversial encryption Bill would grant law enforcement and agencies powers to compel device makers and online service providers to assist investigators in accessing communications produced by their customers, including by taking steps to circumvent the encryption used by the device or service.

The Bill has drawn opposition from the internet industry, the public, the Law Council of Australia, technology experts and privacy leaders.

Further hearings are being held today, with more hearings scheduled on Friday and next Tuesday.

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