Evaluating the Australian Government’s Legislative Response to the Encryption Debate

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 3:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Adam Molnar, Deakin University


The Australian Government released a proposed draft of legislation that would expand national security and law enforcement agencies’ access to encrypted communications on August 15, 2018. The draft, entitled the ‘Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018’ follows after several months of consultations. It would introduce a raft of measures obligating telecommunications service providers operating around the world to undermine or modify their products to facilitate government agencies’ access to encrypted communications. The Bill also ushers in extensive changes concerning authorities’ use of computer network operations (more commonly termed ‘government hacking’). The proposal is the most detailed response to date on ‘encryption as a public policy issue’ in comparison with similar jurisdictions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand.

This talk will critically evaluate the Australian Government’s proposal, with focused attention on the impacts for private industry and the security and integrity information communication infrastructures, as well as for human rights and due process issues which are linked to the rise of Australian computer network operations. As a country without a formal bill of rights that has been historically eager to legislate on national security issues, Australia is in a unique position to formalise these proposals. Passage of the Bill would raise serious ramifications for industry, cybersecurity, human rights, both in Australia and much further afield.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies.


Adam Molnar is a Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University where he is a member of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation and the Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation. Dr Molnar completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Queen's University Surveillance Studies Centre (Canada), and his PhD at the University of Victoria (Canada). He has published numerous academic articles at the intersection of technology and socio-legal studies with a particular focus on surveillance and privacy. Much of this work involves analyses of developments in policing and security intelligence across Australian and Canadian jurisdictions. He is also currently Vice-Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation.