Debate surrounding the government’s anti-encryption legislation (and its effects on the technology sector) continued to rage over the weekend — not in parliament, but in the Crikey comments section. Many Labor supporters (and those slightly less inclined) aired their grievances about what many see as an infringement on citizens’ rights, some didn’t see it is as capitulation, and others thought it was a lot of noise about nothing.

On Labor’s capitulation to encryption legislation

John Hall writes: While I am aghast at the apparent stupidity of Labor, perhaps there is method in their madness. It is the disgusting antics of the Coalition that we should be screaming at. In addition, our singular failure to have a bill of citizen rights before any of this citizen surveillance crap being foisted on us is incredibly insensitive and should preclude our government from any right to criticise other nations on human rights in the future.

Ebony McKenna writes: The Victorian election proved the average voter could see through racist dog-whistling and terror scares. We rejected the shift to the hard-right. Was it really only two weeks ago? Gee whiz, the good feels and happy buzz didn’t last long. If there is a group or two planning something shitty for Christmas, won’t they already be planning it (and most likely under surveillance anyway?) How will this bill make the slightest difference?

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Jimbo from Logan writes: Labor lost me with offshore processing. Now there’s two things they have to fix if they ever want my first preference again.

Laurie Patton writes: To be fair, Bill Shorten had a point when he said he “wasn’t prepared to walk away … and expose Australians to increased risk in terms of national security”. He was also sensibly avoiding the risk that the government would blame him publicly for even the most unrelated acts of violence to occur over the Christmas break. A significant thing to emerge from this debacle is how difficult it is for ordinary people to grasp the complex technical issues involved. Hopefully our elected representatives will take a bipartisan approach next year and pass appropriate amendments to what is clearly another piece of flawed national security legislation.

bjb writes: The Libs were looking to wedge Labor, and if Labor hadn’t let it go, if anything happened that could even remotely be a result of the bill not passing, it would be laid at Labor’s feet. The shock jocks and Murdoch press wouldn’t let up all the way until the election. We know how well children overboard worked for Howard.

spicelab writes: The thesis that Labor is simply playing tactic to avoid being “wedged”, and once in power will introduce all these bold Labor policies, is naive. If Labor thinks they are incapable of shifting the public mood on national security then why would this position change when they are in power? Nope, what we’ll get under Labor is an LNP government with a shiny coat of paint on.

On the IT impact of the encryption bill

Matt McLeod writes: If I were a risk-averse buyer of services from outside Australia I’d be careful about sending any sensitive work here, IT or otherwise — you won’t be able to have any confidence in the security of communication, and while you may accept the risk of your own government spying on you, foreign ones are an entirely different kettle of fish.

Dog’s Breakfast writes: It’s a freaking storm in a teacup, a terrible piece of legislation entirely designed for wedging purposes and to play up the narrative of “tough on terrorists, tough on paedophiles”. A total piece of crap legislation that can’t even lead to a question from authorities for 28 days, which when they ask a company can reply “do you know how encryption works, we can’t get in the middle of end to end encryption, that’s why it’s called end to end encryption”.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and cock-ups to boss@crikey.com.au. We reserve the right to edit comments for length and clarity. Please include your full name.

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Peter Fray
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