AABill spells bad news for the union movement
VAHPA condemns the passing of the Assistance and Access Bill (the AABill) through the Australian Parliament on Thursday, December 6.
This legislation will allow law enforcement agencies to compel software developers to decrypt encrypted messages and software. A developer who refuses to comply with such a request faces jail time.
While these new laws, passed in the name of “national security”, are undoubtedly bad news for the technology industry, it is also bad news for the broader trade union movement. Successive federal governments have used legislation to restrict the actions of trade unions and their ability to organize and represent their members.
As an example of what this particular legislation allows: law enforcement agencies can compel phone makers to unlock the phones used by union officials who find themselves under investigation—and, as recent history makes clear, such investigations can be unwarranted and illegitimate. App developers operating encrypted messaging services, such as those used by journalists and union officials, can also be compelled to decrypt those messages.
While this legislation may not be targeted at unions directly; it presents a very slippery slope in terms of how it can be used by the current and even future governments.
We call on other unions to join VAHPA in condemning this legislation and also call on the Labor Party to reverse its current position in support of this bill should it form government after the next federal election.