Older Australian’s unconcerned about Data Encryption Laws

Oliver Bradshaw | 28 Jul 2019

If you’ve taken a look into the world of technology over the past few months, you’ll know that Australia’s government has been put on blast by foreign leaders, corporations and global netizens for damaging the online privacy of Australians and businesses. However, a large portion of Australians, up to 40 per cent of those over 55, don’t see a problem.

One major factor older Aussies are overlooking is the damage that comes from Australia’s latest encryption laws.

These laws are effectively preventing any data from being kept out of Australian authorities’ hands, or any other party who demands access to a company’s data. As an example, if the Australian Federal Police wanted to gain access to a company or citizen’s digital information, copy it, delete it or change it, they can do so with ease.

Below we’ll take a look over the scope of Australian’s reactions to the law, and why the anti-encryption bill is so threatening.

Australia’s Response to the Laws

In 2019, Essential Research for Digital Rights Watch conducted a comprehensive survey of Australians to determine what they thought of the new laws, which uncovered some rather worrying details.

The majority of Australians, around 70 per cent, said that they were ‘concerned’ about data retention, police raids and other similar implications of the laws.

However, when data sets were limited to retirees, the concern fell to just 41 per cent, showing grave neglect for security or shocking lack of transparency and understanding.

Coalition or Liberal voters also came in worryingly low when asked about their interest in the laws, with just 21 per cent stating any concern whatsoever.

What’s at Risk

As a number of Australians are unaware of the risks and issue at hand, their views are softened; as is their opposition to the law.

To shed some light on the subject, Australia’s anti-encryption laws are essentially actively forcing businesses, consumers and service providers to leave their data in the open, or provide a back door for the Australian government.

These backdoors could be exploited by hackers, or the government, essentially meaning that user data can be used in vote-rigging or other malicious ways. Journalists could also have their work stolen or deleted by governments in power and much more.

The ABC learned first-hand what the government was capable of when AFP officers removed almost all data on an upcoming story regarding the Afghan Files that may have painted a bad picture of the government in office.

To add to the long list of implications, Australian phone carriers and internet service providers have already made it clear that in the short time the law has been in effect, they have lost, ‘upwards of AU$210 million so far.’

Not only is this damaging for some of Australia’s most prominent businesses, but it’s making average consumers worse off, as they may be forced to pay higher premiums to use a service, as telcos do their best to recoup losses.

Protecting Yourself with VPNs

As we mentioned above, there’s little protection in place for any data, whether it be of a company or an individual. Mostly, if a government entity would like to access, delete, copy or manipulate files of yours, they can do so with no restriction.

You can add an extra layer of security to your online movements by installing an all-encompassing VPN service across your devices. These services will encrypt incoming and outgoing traffic, keeping data in transit away from prying eyes. However, VPN services are unable to protect data stored on-device or inside hard disks.


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