So there is a law called Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 that was recently made law in Australia. From what I have heard about it, it allows the government to demand that you break security if requested.

So what if your company provides end to end encryption (e.g. Whatsapp), is based in America, and just ignores the Australian court order? What can Australia do to you if you keep your money outside of Australia?

  • They'll give you hard time should you or your money show up in Australia. They could make the use of your app illegal so that your customers in Australia stop using it.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 17:55
  • If any Australians use your app then they can demand that you follow Australian law. If you don't then they can arrest you next time you visit Australia, and in theory they can also request your extradition. Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 17:57
  • But as a practical matter, what would happen if you blatantly refused, and avoided leaving the US? Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 18:23

1 Answer 1


Yes, if ...

... they are a ‘designated communications provider’ conducting ‘ eligible activities’ under s317C. Your example, Whatsapp is one under item 4.

If they refuse to comply they can be subject to financial penalties. If they refuse to pay the fines they can have their assets that are subject to Australian jurisdiction seized - this includes money in accounts held by third parties like MasterCard, Visa and PayPall.

The could also seek to have orders and judgement debts given by Australian courts executed by US courts. They would be successful unless the judgement violated US law - the first and fourth amendments spring to mind.

  • How does one avoid becoming a 'designated communications provider' in Australia then? Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 17:04
  • @theresawalrus work in construction, mining, hairdressing or anything else that has nothing to do with communications
    – Dale M
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 19:45

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