back to article Australia reviews defence export controls, perhaps easing cryptography research

Australia's Department of Defence wants input on proposed changes to “controlled technology” export controls – and the deadline is this coming Friday. Those controls are described in The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 and are unloved by Australia's tech sector because their requirements to seek approval before sharing code …

  1. corestore

    What an appalling law!

    This smacks of trying to police something that every single person concerned knows is utterly unpoliceable and unenforceable - but nevertheless gives a handy charge to pull out of the folder on occasions when the government decides it wants to make an example of someone; that's clearly the reason it's on the statute book at all.

  2. Frumious Bandersnatch

    Is this an outbreak of common sense?

    If so, and if I were in the NZ government, I'd be inclined to give everyone in the Oz government honorary NZ citizenship. Just to foster good neighbourly relations.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Is this an outbreak of common sense?

      No, the DTCA covers more than just cryptography. It covers a wide range of research and activities in manufacturing, medicine, telecommunications, and a bunch of others even if there is no relation to the military. There is no exception for fundamental research. This is typical head up rear end Canberra with no thought for the unintended consequences, for the R&D driven entirely offshore or for the closing down of future skills pipelines. Just when you call peak stupid in Australia the country surpasses itself. That the serfs should feel happy about crawling to some lick spittle public servant for a licence to do R&D under the pretence of keeping us safe while our own governments supports the US in its terrorist activities around the world is laughable.

      Fortunately as we have learned, Australian law trumps the law of mathematics. Our worthless policy makers and their sycophants can simply legislate supremacy in this area. ROT-13 is secure by government fiat and that is all we need.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch

        Re: Is this an outbreak of common sense?

        Thanks for that, grumpyoldbloke. If they're being dicks, then I think they should definitely get honorary NZ citizenship.

      2. herman Silver badge

        Re: Is this an outbreak of common sense?

        "ROT-13 is secure by government fiat" - Encryption and ROT-13 is only needed for protection against people who can read, so there isn't much demand in Aus.

    2. post-truth

      Re: Is this an outbreak of common sense?

      What a fabulous method permanently to destabilize the West Island! (Speaking as a West and Far Northwest Islander...)

      On the other hand, they'd all migrate northwest to my refugeee camp aka Ukmanus Island, and re-enter politics here. So you're a very mean and nasty person. I'd have to go even further - I think only Iceland qualifies. But after they're kicked out of Ukmanus Island they'll just go to Iceland and take over the Pirate Party, leaving me screwed again...

  3. aberglas

    Not really enforceable

    Fortunately, Australia is not the USA. So people here are not sentenced to long prison terms for technical breaches. Particularly that every laptop that travels is full of crypto.

    But those regulations are a nuisence. They could hold up government contracts etc. So good to see them go.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Not really enforceable

      What happens if an Oz researcher has copies of known malware on his laptop and then he travels to the US of Jail?

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "exploit licenses"

    Perhaps "export licenses" ?

    IIRC this was the situation with the US in the 80's with PGP being "exported" (by modem transfer) to that well known centre for international evil, Canada.

    It's kind of like the British Meteorology Office (the Met office) actually being part of the MoD, or the UK mapping agency being the Ordnance (as in artillery and mortars) Survey

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: "exploit licenses"

      Not quite how PGP got out and about:

      It's a pretty good story - I was vaguely aware that it had been printed, and had assumed that that was how it had been exported, but that was apparently a legal wrangle later in the process.

      The initial export was as an upload to a newsgroup with a 'US Only' tag (because the author didn't, at the time, know all that much about how usenet routed messages).

    2. Alister

      Re: "exploit licenses"

      or the UK mapping agency being the Ordnance (as in artillery and mortars) Survey

      Um, that's exactly what they are. The Ordnance Survey was started by the Board of Ordnance (a predecessor to the Ministry of Defence) as a national military survey starting with the south coast of England.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. FooCrypt

    I've started a blog to discuss the DTC(Act) modifications being put forward to the Australian Parliament.

    Having spent the last few years jumping through the Defence Controls around Cryptology, et al ( 13E, DTC(Act), Fairwork action, A.G.S.V.A. Data Breaches, Australian Signals Directorate delays and essentially requesting source code, Defence Export Controls ( who lost their Office ) delays, Australian Human Rights Cases, etc ), it's a much needed change to ensure innocent end users can obtain access to technologies to ensure a citizens privacy and not be sent to jail on the whim of a Minister in the sitting Australian Federal Government.

    Current criminal penalties of up to 10 years in jail and .5 million in fines, for utilising software to ensure their privacy ( Cryptology ) is a ridiculous law effecting all within Australian borders.

    Feel free to comment, send on, refer, etc.....

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