In a statement on Tuesday, Labor said the government had “broken their promise” by failing to amend the legislation.
“Some customers are less likely to seek out contracts with Australian technology companies due to a widespread perception that Australia’s encryption laws may require them to introduce systemic weaknesses into their systems,” frontbenchers Kristina Keneally, Mark Dreyfus, Michelle Rowland, Clare O’Neil and Tim Watts said in the joint statement.
“This is why Labor is repairing the Morrison government’s encryption laws by introducing legislation based on bipartisan recommendations of the [parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security] – those agreed to by Liberal committee members and promised by Mathias Cormann a year ago.”
Last year, Senator Cormann said the government would consider amendments in 2020 and supported “in principle, all amendments that are consistent with the [PJCIS] recommendations in relation to this bill”.
Labor’s amendments – to be introduced in a private senators’s bill on Wednesday – would introduce a requirement for judicial authorisation to access encrypted communications, in a bid to assure US Congress that Australia would qualify for a data access deal under the country’s Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act.
The encryption legislation is part of a global push by law enforcement to confront the growing challenge of suspects “going dark”, with their data encrypted and out of reach to investigators.