Australian Students Steering Clear of Encryption Courses Thanks to AA Law

Fallout from Australia’s anti-encryption laws are continuing to be felt to this day. Students are being discouraged from taking courses that could teach encryption.

Last December, Australia rushed through it’s anti-encryption law. The law would compel all encryption to contain a backdoor if it happens to be on Australian soil. Reaction to the laws were swift. Businesses and investment dollars began fleeing the country and it even sparked an international incident. While some lawmakers are making no apology for causing so much damage to Australian innovation, the damage and fallout are continuing to be felt to this day.

While some are already aware of the erosion of technological trust in Australia, it seems that erosion is also being felt on Australian soil as well. According to Innovation Aus, students studying Information Technology are having second thoughts on going any further in that career. From the report:

The new Masters course has been in the works for more than two years – long before the controversial Assistance and Access Bill was announced and passed – and the education institute has invested heavily in it.

But Mr Nagle said prospective students may steer clear of a cybersecurity course due to the range of concerns surrounding the new encryption powers, which allow authorities and agencies to compel tech companies to provide access to encrypted data.

“The AA bill got all of our attention, especially the public relations aspect of it. There’s a PR problem with how cybersecurity education in Australia may be carried out with the threat of the government [being] over the top of everything,” Mr Nagle told InnovationAus.com.

“I don’t think the government has done enough to allay peoples’ fears that Australia will be seen as a country where the government has too much power to interfere in privacy,” he said.

“Whether [the students] are comfortable coming and seeing what they’re working on being interrupted by the government, whether that’s factual or not, is the PR problem with it.”

For anyone who supports innovation, this is a very concerning trend. The future of innovation is also being hampered by these anti-encryption laws. Not only is investment heading for the exits in the country today, but the innovators of tomorrow are potentially considering alternate careers to avoid trouble with the government. This represents a double-whammy for the tech sector in the country. Naturally, if Australia withdraws from the world on this front, other countries are going to happily fill what voids are left behind. So, even if Australia performs an about face, it will be left playing catch-up for a considerable amount of time with all the ground it lost from this fiasco.

At this point in time for the country, it isn’t a question of whether or not the country can pull back from this dangerous path. The question now is how it can recover from the self-inflicted damage it is causing. At this point in time, Australia hasn’t even started fixing what is causing all this damage in the first place let alone begin a recovery process. So, as time ticks on, the situation will continue to get worse and worse for the country.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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