Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

The Australian Flag. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The Australian government passed a modified version of its encryption bill Thursday, after the attorney general and his opposition shadow came to an agreement.

Why it matters: The bill gives law enforcement the ability to compel tech firms to circumvent encryption in their products to aid law enforcement. Australia is a member of the Five Eyes alliance along with the U.S., U.K., Canada and New Zealand, and the bill is seen by many as a stepping stone toward new encryption laws in other nations.

What they're saying: "We are very concerned," said Sharon Bradford Franklin, director of surveillance and cybersecurity policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute. "The U.K. Investigatory Powers Act may have been the first domino towards global encryption policy, but Australia's rule is far more dangerous."

The original bill was marketed as one that gives law enforcement access without the creation of back doors or mass surveillance, and indeed it specifically bans "systemic surveillance."

  • But it did not define that term, and law enforcement has suggested it interprets that phrase to mean "surveillance that affects literally every owner of a product" — meaning authorities could be free to pursue something closer to mass surveillance than many would like.

The compromise will permit the government to command tech firms to implant surveillance technology or software into products to investigate crimes that carry at least a three-year prison sentence.

  • The compromise also adds a semi-judicial oversight process, allowing a firm with the aid of a technology expert and ex-judge to halt an order to circumvent encryption if the order is not as limited as possible, proportionate or technologically feasible.

"This is a backdoor to a backdoor," said Bradford Franklin, who noted that if Australia ordered a surveillance implant in an Apple phone, the U.S. or anyone else could order Apple to provide access to that information feed.

Go deeper

Journalism enters dangerous new era

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Capitol attack on Jan. 6 resulted in at least nine physical assaults against journalists and at least five arrests, per the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker's top editor.

Why it matters: President Trump's harsh rhetoric towards the press has empowered leaders abroad and locally in the U.S. to continue to attack press that they don't like.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The beginning of the beginning for Biden's climate push

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration and the days right after will bring a rat-tat-tat burst of climate policy moves, but keep this in mind amid the splashy pledges: pushing through most of his agenda will be a long, uncertain slog.

Why it matters: Biden's climate plan is far more expansive than anything contemplated under President Obama. But for all the immediate pledges, it will take years to see how far Biden gets.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.