Politicians love to fawn over the IT sector, but a bipartisan bill passed yesterday ensures it is never taken seriously.
The combined stupidity and cowardice of the Coalition and Labor now means that any IT product — hardware or software — made in Australia will be automatically too risky to use for anyone concerned about cybersecurity. The government’s encryption backdoor bill, which Labor found a new way to roll over on last night in the Senate, now guarantees Australian-made products will be regarded as potentially having been corrupted by the Australian government and its unsupervised security agencies. One industry figure correctly compared Australia’s industry to Huawei, which is now indelibly associated, despite its furious protests, with the idea of government-inserted backdoors.
Our tech sector is small by US and European standards — it produced exports of $3.2 billion in 2016-17 and, according to an OECD report, “Australia ranks seventh out of 13 countries, with our ICT sector representing around 4.5% of total industry value add in 2015.” The encryption backdoor bill guarantees it will stay that way — every Australian-manufactured IT product must henceforth be regarded with suspicion that any features using encryption will be hopelessly compromised, with a backdoor back to Australian intelligence agencies.