2 May 2019
Major Governments Pass Anti-Privacy Laws
by Shield Your Info
Why Is Austria Against Internet Privacy?
The Austrian government is trying to pass a law that forces social media users to use their real identities. The law is intended to stop hate speech on large social media platforms. Other European countries have taken steps to try to minimize hate speech on the internet, but Austria is the first to present a bill of this kind.
Germany fines platforms up to €50 million for failing to remove hate speech promptly. This raised concerns that platforms like Twitter and Facebook could take this too far and preemptively censor too much content. Facebook even embedded regulators inside the company to see how Facebook fights hate speech.
According to Austria's Culture and Media Minister Gernot Bluemel, the bill will likely pass in September 2020. The regulation would apply to platforms with more than 100,000 users or €500,000 in revenue in Austria. TechDirt reported that the proposed law says pseudonyms are allowed, but accounts will still require that users provide site operators with a ton of personal information.
Hate speech is one of the biggest issues impacting the internet today and people hiding behind fake identities means that people don't have to face the consequences of their words. However, anonymity also encourages more free-flowing discourse about government and other serious issues.
Australia Is Against Encryption
Australia also passed a bill in December 2018 that would let governments demand that companies leave backdoors into their encrypted systems to allow government access. This would mean companies like Facebook and Apple would have to build backdoors into their secure or private messaging apps, WhatsApp and iMessage. The biggest issue here isn't just giving the government access to user data, it's the back door. Any back door into an encrypted system creates a weakness for hackers to exploit.
Senior Counsel and Director of Freedom, Security, and Technology Project a the Center for Democracy & Technology Greg Nojeim said, "the Australian legislation is particularly broad and vague, and would serve as an extremely poor model."
Wired reported, "the companies that fail to implement the necessary access for government officials could face fines of over $7 million. Individuals within those companies who resist could face prison time."
This Law has Global Impacts
Although this law only applies to Australia, any of Australia's intelligence allies also benefit from this law. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, which together are known as Five Eyes, could also be given access to people's information after it has been collected in Australia.
Conclusion: Privacy Laws Should Protect Individuals
It's great that European privacy laws like GDPR protect people's rights to know where their data goes and how it's used. There is still the argument that privacy kills security of society as a whole. If people aren't able to keep their behavior private, it will be more difficult to plan and conduct terrorist attacks or other crimes. However, privacy laws are in place to keep people's information safe from businesses, surveillance organizations, and government agencies. These laws need protect privacy from end-to-end, regardless of who it's protecting people from.