You bunch of idiots!

An Open Letter to Bill Shorten and Labor from the Tech Community

Dear Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor Party,

Words cannot describe how angry we feel after your gutless and spineless decision to blindly support the Government's so-called "Assistance and Access Bill" (#aabill). You even sacrificed the children locked up in offshore detention centres just so you couldn't be labelled as supporters of terrorists and pedophiles.

All of you had doubts about the law. You said that it was rushed. You said that it was flawed. And yet, you still let it through the House of Representatives.

You said you would put in amendments in the Senate. You said that you would ensure there would be reviews into this. You said that you would tie the passage of this bill with getting the children off Nauru and Manus Island.

Then you capitulated at the first sign of criticism from the other side - and by Christopher Pyne of all people.

You let us down. You let the entire industry down.

You have shown us what you really are - a bunch of spineless weasels.

Every tech expert agrees that the so-called "Assistance and Access Bill" will do significant damage to Australia's IT industry.

It weakens security for everyone. We do not want to deliberately build backdoors or make our products insecure. This means everyone else's data will be vulnerable. People have an expectation that we protect their personal data to the best of our ability. We cannot continue to guarantee this unless we go against the technical capability notices issued by law enforcement - which will become a criminal offence.

You have made it harder for international companies to hire Australian talent, or have offices in Australia filled with Australian talent. Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Atlassian, Microsoft, Slack, Zendesk and others now have to view their Australian staff and teams as "potentially compromised". This is because law enforcement can force a person to build a backdoor and they cannot tell their bosses. They might sack them and leave Australia because of the law you just passed.

You have also just made it almost impossible to export Australian tech services because no-one wants a potentially vulnerable system that might contain a backdoor. Who in their right mind will buy a product like that? Look at stock price of one of Australia's largest tech companies, Atlassian. It's down because of what you have voted for. In addition, because it violates the EU's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), you have just locked Australian companies and startups out of a huge market.

And yet, you chose to ignore us.

Being against the so-called "Assistance and Access Bill" does not mean you are in support of terrorism or pedophilia. We abhor terrorism and pedophilia.

We are against the bill because it is a destructive and shortsighted law. In addition, most of (if not all) the services that law enforcement want to target with this law are based outside of Australia. This law is effectively useless in forcing them to build backdoors or break encryption.

In all good conscience, we can no longer support Labor. We will be advocating for people to choose those who protect digital rights.

Signed

... and many more.

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