Bill will force you to reveal password or face jail

Font Size:

Are you happy to hand authorities the password to your smartphone or laptop on request?

Under a proposed new law, you could be fined $50,000 and face up to five years’ imprisonment if you don’t.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton argues that the new law is needed to help police identify criminals hiding behind encryption technology. But civil libertarians say the changes go too far too soon, the Daily Mail is reporting.

“The bill is a draconian measure to grant law enforcement authorities unacceptable surveillance powers that invade Australians’ civil rights,” Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm told the Daily Mail.

“It appears that people who are not even suspected of committing a crime can face a fine of up to $50,000 and up to five years’ imprisonment for declining to provide a password to their smartphone, computer or other electronic devices.”

The legislation would require service providers to cooperate with law enforcement investigations, in some cases by building new tools to allow user security to be bypassed. And other countries could request Australian police to access data on your computer to help them in criminal investigations.

The bill would also impose additional obligations on domestic and foreign companies that supply services to Australia.

More than 14,000 submissions about the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 had been received from concerned citizens and organisations, including Digital Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International and Access Now.

NSW’s Council of Civil Liberties is one group concerned the bill gives authorities too much power. Vice-president Lesley Lynch  said: “This is another extension of powers that go well beyond what is reasonable and necessary in a democracy.”

The Daily Mail reports that a software developer had his password-protected laptop and phone seized by Australian Border Force officers this year at Sydney Airport and did not know whether any files had been copied. He feared such actions could compromise his business.

Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor says the Government does not want to undermine encryption, but require companies to take “reasonable steps” to assist law enforcement.

Do you think the proposed legislation goes too far? Are you happy to divulge your passwords to the authorities?

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


How banks know when your card has been hacked

Banks can't fight online credit card fraud alone, and neither can you.

Provocative wifi password brings down passenger plane

Talk about jumping out of the flying pan and into the fire …

Stopping relentless unwanted calls

This new piece of technology stopped telemarketer calls for Neil.

Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 44
  1. 0

    Just be careful what you put into a phone or computer

  2. 0

    Here’s the next chapter in what the current government is up to. Bit by bit it is forcing the police state onto citizens. First they hid the top end of town from scrutiny. Then they signed up for a Free Trade deal where they refused to divulge what was in it (companies can now sue our government!). Then they wanted to track private phones without a court order. And now it is fine/jail if you do not tell them your password?

    Welcome to the police state. By all means vote coalition is you wish but don’t complain when you wake up one day and find yourself in the same position as China being monitored all day every day and having points allocated against who you see and what you spend your money on.

  3. 0

    I am not giving them mine because I don’t have one.

  4. 0

    A court approved search warrant must be the minimum requirement. We must be certain that authorities seeking information on criminal activities do not broaden the scope of their investigations into unauthorised areas.

    • 0

      Once any law is passed then the scope of investigations always increases. When mistakes are made all we will here from the politicians is the usual waffle, with an insincere apology.

    • 0

      A court order should be the order of the day. This government wants absolute power and that is the real concern. When you have that…………well you get another Hitler in progress.

  5. 0

    Yes the proposed legislation does go too far and No I am not happy with the requirement to divulge passwords. It is not only an invasion of privacy it is also a threat to the security of all citizens.
    Also if that bill is passed it could be very awkward for those Australians who do not own either a smartphone or laptop. We don’t have either and there is no mention in the above article as to what happens when a non owner is asked for a password.
    Perhaps it is just another of Peter Dutton’s odd requirements as he obviously doesn’t understand or perhaps doesn’t care how this could be misused against innocent Australians.

    • 0

      If the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Bill is passed and becomes law, it is unlikely that any future government, regardless of its political persuasion, will consider amending or repealing it.

      That is the problem. History shows that governments are loath to reduce their control over their citizens.

  6. 0

    How ridiculous, the law doesn’t even jail the thugs running rampant in our streets, as if they would jail you for not giving your password. They would have to admit there was a law and order issue and we all know everything is rosy in the garden of Victoria in particular, and the rest of the ‘law abiding’ states are close behind.

  7. 0

    I have nothing to hide nor do I have my ‘phone password protected. If such legislation catches those who would do me or my family harm then I agree.

    • 0

      Neither do I but I would be pretty unhappy at having public servants of all kind perusing my data just because they could. If you think that you’d only be checked if there was a suspicion of wrongdoing then you miss the obvious: people in power abuse their position.

    • 0

      Neither do I but I have to agree with Mick about my data being mine alone. Do not do any banking and do not run political stuff on the PC apart from participating on this forum. Occasionally I gave a comment about things in Europe on their website and that is about it. Do not miss the net when I am on holiday which is not too far away. Who knows we might have a new Govt when I come back. We did have a new PM when coming home from Ireland last month. Like Italy it seems.

  8. 0

    Since my password is actually my fingerprint, would it be OK to give them the ‘finger’?

  9. 0

    As one person said to me he had more freedom in Poland when it was a communist state then what he has here and that was 10 years ago what would he think now

  10. 0

    Isn’t it your right to refuse to comment during a police interview or to say anything which may incrimminate you. If they make it mandatory to divulge possibly incrimminating evidence does not this contradict that right?

Load More Comments



continue reading

Health news

Australians want to die at home - but do we achieve that goal?

How do you want to die? More than 70 per cent of Australians want the end to come at home,...


Rise in 'grey divorces' sparks warning from legal experts

More Australians are divorcing later in life, leading to "unique, confusing and overwhelming" challenges for couples aged over 50. The...


Friday Funnies: Short jokes for the shortest month

February flies by too fast, just like these short but sharp jokes. What is the recipe for Honeymoon Salad?Lettuce alone...


The four types of hearing loss explained

Research indicates that one in six Australians has some form of hearing loss.  Hearing loss refers to reduced hearing, which...


Fabulous Fish Pie

It should go without saying that a fish pie needs to have lots of big chunks of fish in it,...


Succulent Spice-Roasted Salmon

These little salmon bites are something I've made time and time again over the years and this method of roasting...


How to take great pictures of gardens

If you've never been too good at taking pictures of your beautiful blooms, now's the time to brush up on...

Aged Care

Paid on par with cleaners: the broader issue affecting aged care

Paid on par with cleaners: the broader issue affecting the quality of aged care Ben Farr-Wharton, Edith Cowan University; Matthew...