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Senetas' delay in encryption bill submission surprising


One of the curious aspects surrounding the Federal Government's encryption bill is why it took Australian firm Senetas ― which has technology exports in excess of $3 billion ― so long to voice its objections to the draft legislation.

Senetas would be among the Australian companies that stands to lose the most if the law is implemented in its current form and yet the company has kept its views on the bill to itself until recently.

The company did not make a submission to the Department of Home Affairs when public comment was open between 14 August and 10 September. And until the last day ( 25 October ) when the list of submissions was up ― it has now disappeared ― Senetas had no presence on it.

The company has now surfaced in the list of submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and its contribution sits at No 85 on a list that has 87 submissions as of today (13 November).

Curiously, Senetas chose to voice its objections much earlier to what is officially known as Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 ― that link is dead now as well ― by sponsoring a podcast

. Not that many people from among the masses would have noticed that.

In the submission which it has made to PJCIS, Senetas quotes a great deal from the submissions of others to justify its conclusions. Once again, exactly why is unknown.

Companies that stand to lose the most due to any particular regulation should, arguably, be the first out of the gates with criticism. Cisco is a case in point; the global networking vendor, which knows what can result from backdoors in hardware , made a forceful attack against the draft in an early submission to the PJCIS and then its personnel appeared in numbers during the first hearing of the PJCIS on 19 October to continue in the same vein.

Senetas' reluctance to take on the government may be due to the fact that Australian companies generally avoid open confrontation with the government. Those who do ― like the cloud provider Secure Collaboration ― often back away after an initial foray , after finding that it does not serve their ends.

There are three more hearings organised by the PJCIS on 16, 27 and 30 November, and it remains to be seen whether Senetas will show up and argue its case. There are good reasons why it should it represents one of the better reasons why this senseless bill should be used as kindling for a bonfire.


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