Protecting your privacy is part of our commitment to you, so we speak out when we see it challenged.
At Fastmail, we care deeply about protecting your right to data privacy. Recently, we continued our advocacy to protect privacy rights by voicing our concerns about the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, also known as TOLA or "the AABill” to Parliament.
To bring you up to speed, the act, which focuses on services built with end-to-end encryption, allows law enforcement to compel companies to modify their services and intercept data from their customers in its unencrypted form. Our previous post discussed how Fastmail uses encryption, and why the act does not change your privacy or data security with Fastmail. However, we believe this act has real implications for the Australian tech industry and the potential to weaken the security of other technology products created or used in Australia.
We believe it’s important to use our voice, even if we’re not being directly impacted. We have made submissions in each round of public consultation regarding this bill, most recently we submitted feedback to the Australian government’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security on Feb 21, 2019. In our submission, we cited possible impacts of the act on the local technology sector including creating a distrust of Australia and Australian companies, causing financial losses to tech business, and creating confusion and stress among technical talent.
Although the outcome is unclear, we are hoping for the best. The good news is that many groups within the technical community are working together toward change.
As we have stated in the past, Fastmail’s business is not directly affected by this legislation and we won’t be making changes to our technology or policies in response to this act.
While we had a small number of customers tell us they were discontinuing service due to this legislation, as well as a handful of potential customers tell us it was impacting their evaluation of our services, the AABill did not have a material impact on our business. However, we shared these developments in our submission to Parliament as an example of the AABill’s potentially chilling effect on Australian businesses. Parliament deserves to know how the marketplace views their decisions.
Fastmail continues to enjoy a strong, loyal and growing customer base due to our relentless focus on the privacy of your personal information, a robust and standards-compliant technical platform, and a superior customer experience. We thank you for your ongoing support, and we are happy to be able to advocate on your behalf in legal, political and technical spheres!
We are a proud Australian company committed to our home. All advocacy work happens on the ground and we’ll continue to fight for you and your privacy rights. We remain optimistic and inspired when we see our colleagues in the tech sector also working for change.
Privacy is central to our commitment to you. We have taken—and will continue to take—a public position on the AABill because it has raised concerns from technology companies and privacy supporters around the world. We will continue our work to advocate for privacy, for Australian citizens and for customers of Australian businesses everywhere.
We hope you will join us in advocating for privacy rights, in Australia and your own home countries. While we are talking about Australia today, legal challenges to privacy rights come up in different countries all the time.
Here are the actions you can take to join our efforts in Australia:
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