In a statement submitted to the Australian parliament, Apple criticised Australia’s proposed Access and Assistance Bill 2018, calling for stronger encryption. Apple wrote that it is concerned that future governments may use the overly broad powers of the bill to weaken cybersecurity and encryption. Apple also expressed concern that insufficient independent judicial oversight will reduce consumer trust and security. The draft bill also favors the government’s interpretation of the law’s terms and the technical facts, which may invite uncertainty, confusion, and potential abuse, the company stated. The bill will create unprecedented interception requirements for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and it contains secrecy mandates Apple considers to be unnecessarily stifling. The last concern raised was about the extraterritoriality and global impact of the law, as Apple pointed out that a provider may suffer civil liability caused by complying with the law.
Encryption refers to the scrambling of electronic documents and communication into an unreadable format which can be read only through the use of encryption software. Traditionally, governments were the only players who had the power and the know-how to develop and deploy powerful encryption in their military and diplomatic communications. With user-friendly packages, encryption has become affordable for any Internet users, including criminals and terrorists. This triggered many governance issues related to finding the right balance between the need to respect privacy of communication of Internet users and the need for governments to monitor some types of communication of relevance for the national security (potential criminal and terrorist activity remains an issue).