Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2015

Looks like we might be facing new restrictions on the publication of research into a whole manner of fields:

The law in Australia has been broadened to cover “dual-use” technology, including:

  • high-performance, neural, optical and fault-tolerant, computers,
  • electronics,
  • wavelength research (remember, wi-fi was ‘invented’ in Australia),
  • heat-shielding,
  • telecommunications,
  • information security research,
  • robotics,
  • human, animal and plant pathogens, both bacterial and viral,
  • fibre optics,
  • cryptography,
  • satellite technology.
  • sensor technology.
  • signal and image processing,.
  • composite materials, and…the list could go on and on.

(Emphasis mine)

If a university academic shares an “inappropriate” email with a fellow academic overseas on dual-use research, the Australian faces a $400,000 fine, 10 years in jail and forfeiture of work. Meanwhile, in reverse, the overseas academic could communicate exactly the same information to an Australian researcher without fault or punishment.


Considering that this has already passed - what can we do about this?

Saw quite a few academics getting annoyed around the time this passed. Beyond adding it to our party platform though, I’m not sure what we can really do. Data retention is a much bigger concern to the wider electorate. This is frustrating as well, but it’s nowhere near as bad.

Nick Coghlan wrote a good summary of this act and the proposed 2015 amendment.

The tl;dr is that the strategic goods list looks very scary but realistically the legislation does not pose a serious problem to anyone outside the defence contracting industry. At least, it won’t if the proposed amendments are passed…

I think Liam is right, we are facing other more serious and wider-reaching legislative mistakes right now, like data retention and piracy three-strikes.


A story at theconversation about this bill, Paranoid defence controls could criminalise teaching encryption