The Law Council says Australia’s decryption laws could make it the weakest link in the ‘Five Eyes’ network.

The Federal Government’s proposed decryption laws could make Australia a “funnel” for international requests for data, the Law Council of Australia has warned.

The lawyers’ lobby has made a submission (available in PDF form) on Australia's Assistance and Access Bill 2018.

It says the vague and “intrusive powers” being proposed with limited judicial oversight could open organisations up to costly - even illegal - demands from Australian authorities.

The government recently scrapped revenue protection as a reason for using the decryption laws, but left in “assisting the enforcement of the criminal laws in force in a foreign country” as an acceptable reason.

“The enforcement of criminal laws in other countries may mean international requests for data will be funnelled through Australia as the ‘weakest-link’ of our Five eyes allies,” the council said.

“This is because Australia has no enforceable human rights protections at the federal level.”

The Law Council says that “if ‘assistance to foreign law enforcement’ is to remain as a basis”, extra safeguards should be put in place.

“The relevant decision-maker ought be required to give consideration to the mandatory and discretionary grounds for refusing a mutual assistance request” under existing laws, the council said.

“The mandatory aspects mean that Australian intelligence services may compel Australian service providers to undertake extensive and potentially resource-draining activities in response to assistance requests from foreign law enforcement agencies,” it said.

More information is available here.