Global tech giants have stepped up their opposition to the Australian government’s proposed overhaul of cyber security laws, warning the bill will allow authorities to forcibly access their networks without due process.
The industry bodies representing some of the world’s biggest technology companies, including Google, Microsoft, Intel, Twitter, eBay, Amazon and Adobe, said the new laws would create an “unworkable set of obligations and set a troubling global precedent”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year revealed a wave of sophisticated cyber attacks on all levels of government, industry and critical infrastructure including hospitals, local councils and state-owned utilities.
The bill would allow the government to declare an emergency to give agencies such as the Australian Signals Directorate the power to plug into the networks of companies operating critical infrastructure to fend off major cyber attacks. It would also set a range of reporting obligations on those operators once they were hacked.
Federal Parliament’s security and intelligence committee last month recommended the government split the bill in half to allow urgent measures to pass while giving more time for the government and industry to consult on the other issues.
But in a letter to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Thursday, the Information Technology Industry Council, Australian Information Industry Association and the Cybersecurity Coalition said the elements of the bill that caused the most concern were the ones that would be fast-tracked.
The three industry bodies said the bill remained “highly problematic and largely unchanged despite extensive feedback from our organisations”.
While the government asserts that the power to forcibly enter networks would be used only as a last resort, the tech groups said the bill gave authorities “unprecedented and far-reaching powers, which can impact the networks, systems and customers of domestic and international entities, and should be subject to a statutorily prescribed mechanism for judicial review and oversight”.