The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) has called on the government to reconsider its proposed encryption legislation to address concerns about the impact on journalists and their sources.
MEAA’s move follows news Scott Morrison was looking to introduce an “anti-encryption” laws which would enable officials to gain access to encrypted communications in the form of data from phones and other devices.
Speaking on the legislation, MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said the bill should not be allowed to proceed in its current form.
“This bill would grant access to the communications data of journalists without any proper judicial oversight, and with no consideration of the need to protect public interest reporting.
“Journalists increasingly rely on encrypted communications to protect the identity of confidential sources.
“Offering this protection is vital. It gives whistleblowers the confidence to come forward with public interest concerns.
“In the absence of that confidence many important stories will never come to light,” he added.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has received nearly 100 submissions to its inquiry on this bill.
Virtually all of the submissions raised serious concerns about its impact.
“Instead of listening to the concerns raised by technology experts, lawyers, privacy advocates and many others, the government is instead seeking to ram the legislation through Parliament next week,” Mr Murphy said.
“Everyone accepts the need to give our law enforcement and intelligence agencies adequate powers to keep us safe.
“But weakening encryption is a serious and technically complex exercise, one that no other government has done.
“The risk in ramming through complex legislation with undue haste is that it will actually make us less safe and trample on the very democratic freedoms we are seeking to protect,” bbMurphy said.
“There needs to be much more careful consideration of the risks this legislation poses.”