Daily News Roundup

October 2, 2018

Image: ABC News

Australia’s surveillance laws could damage internet security globally, overseas critics say

Australia’s new technology surveillance laws are drawing increasing scrutiny from international privacy groups and technology companies.

Crimes, smartphone applications and data can cross borders thanks to the internet, and the proposed legislation is part of a push to allow authorities greater access to suspects’ secure messages.

“The lack of access to encrypted communications presents an increasingly significant barrier for national security and law enforcement agencies,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said when introducing the bill to parliament in mid-September.

But if it passed, the Assistance and Access Bill’s expansive powers could make Australia a troubling test case for the rest of the world, according to some critics.

A coalition of mostly American civil society groups and technology companies, including Apple and Microsoft, outlined issues with a draft version of the law in a submission to the Government, and members continue to voice concerns about its amended version.

The group fears the bill’s proposed powers, which could see technology and telecommunication companies, among others, made to build new ways of intercepting emails or text messages, could have serious implications for online security overseas as well as domestically.

The ‘Five Eyes’ network

The submission’s signatories are concerned about any attempt, anywhere in the world, to undermine encryption — the process that keeps online products and services secure, said Sharon Bradford Franklin, its co-author and Open Technology Institute’s director of cybersecurity policy in Washington, DC.

The Government maintains that the bill cannot be used to demand the creation of “systemic” vulnerabilities, such as undermining encryption across all devices.

However, it does include a list of things a provider could be called on to do for authorities, including “installing, maintaining, testing or using software or equipment”.

The coalition’s submission states that installing “unknown” or “untested” software could introduce unexpected vulnerabilities into a manufacturer’s products, among other outcomes.

“Tools that are available to Australia, number one, risk damaging the cyber security of everybody, depending on what type of changes tech companies are forced to make to their products and services,” Ms Franklin said.


Conjoined twins fly from Bhutan to Melbourne for ‘extraordinarily complex’ separation surgery

Surgeons from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital will attempt to separate 14-month-old conjoined twins who are being flown into Australia today from their home in Bhutan.

Nima and Dawa were born conjoined at the chest facing each other and doctors in Bhutan believe they share a liver.

Charity organisation Children First Foundation organised the flight after doctors said it would greatly boost the likelihood of a successful separation for the sisters.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said a large team of specialist doctors has been preparing for Nima and Dawa’s surgery for months.

“The Royal Children’s Hospital and indeed some of our wonderful, wonderful clinicians at Monash Children’s Hospital as well have been considering how best to support this very, very incredibly challenging case for some time,” she said.

“This has been an extraordinarily complex preparation process involving very important considerations and decisions being made about the possible opportunities that could be offered to the twins by our clinicians here in Melbourne.

“It’s a matter of incredible pride that our teams are going to be putting their hands up to work and give these beautiful little girls their best chance at having a full and dignified life.”


Greg Inglis charged with drink driving, speeding just hours after being named Kangaroos captain

NRL star Greg Inglis has been charged with speeding and drink driving, just hours after being named captain of the Australian rugby league team.

The ABC understands Inglis was returning to Sydney from Dubbo where he had been attending the Koori Knockout, an Indigenous football competition in Dubbo.

“Officers attached to the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command were conducting stationary speed enforcement on the Great Western Highway at Lithgow when they detected a black Mercedes-Benz travelling above the speed limit,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“Police stopped the car and performed a roadside breath test on the 31-year-old driver, a man from Coogee, which allegedly returned a positive reading,” the statement said.

Police allege Inglis was travelling more than 10 kilometres above the speed limit, which attracted the attention of officers.

He then tested positive to roadside breath test, before he was taken to Lithgow Police Station where he underwent a breath analysis and allegedly recorded a reading of 0.085.

Inglis was charged with mid-range drink driving and speeding offences.

His licence was suspended and he is due to appear in Lithgow Court in November.

Earlier on Monday, the South Sydney Rabbitoh was named by coach Mal Meninga as the new Australian rugby league captain in Tests against New Zealand and Tonga in Auckland this month.

This daily news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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