Apple has joined Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook in opposing a proposed Australian law requiring tech companies to let law enforcement access private encrypted data in suspected criminal investigations.
The law would seek to punish companies which don’t comply with $7.2 million fines, along with prison terms for individuals. It would make Australia one of the first nations to pass major legislation in this area, although other countries may be keen to follow in its footsteps.
The Australian government has said that the new law is need at a time of heightened worries about terror attacks. Parliament is set to vote on the bill in the next several weeks.
“Any kind of attempt by interception agencies, as they are called in the bill, to create tools to weaken encryption is a huge risk to our digital security,” Lizzie O’Shea, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet, told Reuters.
Apple’s pro-privacy stance
This isn’t the first time that Apple has voiced its opposition to laws that would allow snooping on encrypted data. The most notable standoff occurred in 2016 when Apple faced off with the FBI over a case involving San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c and whether it should help hack it.
It also criticized the U.K.’s proposed Investigatory Powers Act during the legislation’s draft stage, arguing that forcing companies to create backdoors in encryption services like iMessage could “hurt law-abiding citizens.” The draft bill, known as the “snooper’s charter,” was later dropped.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has long been an outspoken supporter of user privacy.