Assistance and Access Bill 2018


  • Everyone is using encryption now
  • The cops aren’t very happy about this

From my reading, this looks like it’s creating a mechanism for the various police forces (including the state ICACs/CCCs, which is nice) to instruct telecommunications providers and corporations making/selling “data processing devices” (that part is poorly-defined) to assist the cops. It also has a mechanism whereby the cops can merely ‘request’ assistance and provides legal immunity for voluntarily complying with such a request.

I think it’s meant to be a generalised successor to whatever the wiretap legislation used to be.

There’s a “limitations” part, and it has a few instructive items

  • that the cops can’t require the introduction of a systemic weakness, or prevent the rectification of a systemic weakness (and they’re specifically thinking about decryption backdoors here)
  • things that need a warrant under existing legislation will continue to need a warrant

So this isn’t “OMG everything is now to be backdoored for everyone”, it’s more “yes, if you’re the suspect of an investigation we legally can and will hack your devices”.

it’s a bit more than you say. It will hoover up everyone -

the person provides an electronic
service that has one or more
end users in Australia

And if you didn’t know the authorities have the mandate to disrupt groups that it doesn’t like, so it could easily use this bill for those proposes.

As a Tor Exit Operator they could come to me, I can’t tell anyone and probably won’t have the funds to fight any request in court. Yes there are protections but like all protections you will have to take it to court to get a ruling.

I say this is very bad.

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Watch out calculator companies!


Maybe a Press Releas highlighting the PPA concernes that the bill has not enough safe guards and would be open for abuse. We could call on the Greens and Labour to take a stand against

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So, here’s where things are at

  • massive shenanigans
  • all but waved through the House
  • Labor are still moving amendments in the Senate
  • House has adjourned for the year (amendments will need to go back to the House)

So unless Labor give up on their amendments, it’s not going to happen this year

I think this thing needs to be presented in a broader context.

Over the last few years, the Australian government has just been chipping away at our liberty and privacy.
Each step is presented as just one more thing they need to do, but cumulatively, it’s just outrageous.

Consider some of the powers that the Australian government has granted to federal police/ASIO over the last few years. Maybe you have some more to add to this list, but just off the top of my head, here are some choice pieces of legislation change that I’ve reviewed and responded to over the past few years:

  • They get to monitor any communications network they feel like.
  • They get to censor any website they don’t like.
  • They get to change anything they like on any computer or network of computers with impunity. They don’t even have to limit themselves to the computers and networks of criminal suspects, and there’s no limit on the scope of this, so infecting every computer in the country with a virus is perfectly legal, and there’s no apparent remedy in the event that they destroy your business in the process.
  • They get to have retrospective warrants. Just go break into a place, search it and do whatever, including replacing equipment, then ask for permission later. If I remember correctly, it’s just the attorney general (an elected position occupied by people like Brandis) that gets to approve it, so an elected government can just send the feds in to investigate whatever they like, and retrospectively approve their own plan, without court involvement.
  • ASIO gets to prosecute people in court, without fronting up to make an accusation or be questioned about their investigation. They get to present an affidavit to the court that the court is now obliged to accept as prima facie evidence, meaning that it is to be accepted by the court as inherently true, unless specifically disproved, but you don’t get to question your accuser to that end.

and if that wasn’t enough, now with the Assistance and Access Bill 2018, they want to be able to force private citizens in corporations to compromise the security of private networks and computer systems, they want to make it illegal not to comply, and as a final slap in the face, they want to make it illegal to tell anybody that you are being forced to do this.

What the hell people?
This is just too much authoritarian bullshit, and it gets bi-partisan support every time.
And where’s the public oversight?


Labor have rolled over and will be voting to ensure the legislation gets passed tonight (i.e. unamended).

The Greens will be moving Labor’s amendments, in a classic piece of trolling.


Angery react. This is the biggest Twitterstorm I’ve seen for a while, but the sheer tone of bitterness tells me we all knew this was inevitable.

This mob are gone come March May

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NSW election is March, Federal will be May… unless you think it’ll fall early.

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Long week. Longer year. This has been the 2018 which never ends and the pressure is only going to ramp up as we approach the election.

They’ve declared an April budget, so it can’t be much earlier.

Any meme-lords looking for material, this clip pretty much reflects my view of the situation.

Bruce Willis being the Australian Government (LIBLAB), or maybe Mike Pezzullo as the Dark Lord (1)

  1. as mentioned in John Steels speech

You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me.

Nope, our government is that stupid.

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It’s not an encryption ban per se so much as it’s aimed at compromising the endpoints. It’d include protocol downgrades though.

@StefanCristian.B, @AndrewDowning - I’ve just merged things in to the existing thread.

Thank you! :slight_smile:
I was wondering where’s the right thread :smiley:

I’ll be interviewing Stilgherrian about this on my radio show tomorrow at about 12.30. Roving Spotilight, noon-2pm, Tuesdays, 2RSR Sydney, 88.9 FM and streaming on

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