New Internet Society study finds Australia’s TOLA Law poses long-term risks to Australian economy

The Internet Society published a new study entitled The Economic Impact of Laws that Weaken Encryption which provides a first-of-its-kind assessment examining the potential economic impact of  Australia’s Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) 2018 (dubbed TOLA). The study argues that TOLA, which expanded government authority and capabilities to circumvent digital data protection, presents a significant risk of future economic harm to Australia’s economy with negative spillovers globally. On one hand, it surges business uncertainty which demotivates companies to invest in a country with no legal clarity or predictability. On the other hand, it could damage the brand image of Australian businesses since it provides the government with potential access to critical customer data at any time. Yet, trust in digital services, including the internet, is the most significant hazard that TOLA poses. ‘These findings underscore the very real unintended consequences of legislation that threatens to undermine strong encryption. With similar policies being introduced in other countries, we could potentially see these economic consequences extending globally in addition to compromised security and privacy of billions of people worldwide,’ said Internet Society Regional Vice President Asia-Pacific Rajnesh Singh.