AIIA raises concern over rushed digital legislation

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 15 April, 2019

AIIA raises concern over rushed digital legislation

The AIIA has expressed concern that legislation that has been rushed through parliament — including new laws being introduced in the wake of the Christchurch attack — could have significant unintended consequences for Australia’s digital economy.

The association is calling for more consultation between government and industry in light of the speed two critical pieces of legislation passed through both houses of parliament.

These are the controversial Assistance and Access Act, more commonly known as the encryption Bill, as well as amendments to Australia’s Criminal Code, which was passed through parliament in just two days earlier this month.

The AIIA has been an ardent critic of the encryption Bill, which grants powers to law enforcement and intelligence agencies to demand that companies enable the decryption of messages sent over their devices and services.

The industry body has consistently argued that the legislation is likely to negatively impact the competitiveness of Australian software and hardware manufacturers in international markets.

Meanwhile, amendments to the Criminal Code, which the AIIA said were passed with no input or consultation from industry, were designed to attempt to crack down on the livestreaming of violent material on social media after the horrific terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques was livestreamed by the Australian perpetrator.

The amendments make it a criminal offence for social media platforms not to rapidly remove “abhorrent violent material” from their platforms, with potential jail time for social media company executives.

“More dialogue is required between government and industry to ensure legislation keeps pace with technological developments,” AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said.

“The government’s reaction shows a complete lack of understanding of the modern economy and the role of ICT in underpinning economic growth. The unintended consequences of both pieces of legislation, and the damage to the Australian digital sector and multinational companies operating in Australia, are yet to be understood.”

Gauci added that neither set of legislation establishes clear processes for companies to follow to maintain compliance.

“Without greater dialogue between the digital industry and government, and the departments that serve the government of the day, we will continue to see implementation of regulatory frameworks that are out of step with technological developments.”

Image credit: ©Warakorn/Dollar Photo Club

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