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After a 30-year Battle! Indigenous Australians Celebrate their Victory in 160,000 hectares Land Rights Battle

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AUSTRALIA, May 23, 2017: After a 30-year battle, indigenous groups on Australia’s Cape York Peninsula are celebrating the return of more than 160,000 hectares of tribal land. It has been handed back to three aboriginal clans by the Queensland state government.

It was opposition to the world’s first commercial space terminal in the mid 1980s that galvanized the Indigenous land rights movement in the Cape York Peninsula. Aboriginal campaigners said plans to launch U.S. satellites using Soviet rockets from the site at Temple Bay in northern Australia would have destroyed sacred sites. Conservationists also argued the plan would harm the area’s unique biodiversity.

After a long fight stretching back decades, more than 160,000 hectares of land have been returned to traditional tribal owners.

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Andrew Picone, the northern Australia campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation said it was the first time indigenous campaigners had joined forces with environmentalists.

“Back in the 1980s when the spaceport was first proposed traditional owners launched their own campaign against that spaceport and they had their own legal proceedings as well. They asked for support from the conservation movement because we were also interested in the natural and cultural values of the Cape, so it was one of the first alliances you could say between Indigenous groups and the conservation movement,” he said. (V.O.A)

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About a third of the land returned to indigenous control will be used to create Australia’s newest national park. This will be owned and jointly run by aboriginal groups and should provide jobs in eco-tourism to communities that have had high rates of unemployment.

As all are economic dividends there are significant spiritual benefits, too. Indigenous leaders say the land handover will give them unfettered access and control of sacred sites.

Aboriginal Australians revere the land, and consider it to be the Mother of creation that is full of secrets and wisdom.

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The Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was an historic day after formally handing control of the land on Cape York back to indigenous groups.

There are now 28 aboriginal-owned and jointly-managed National Parks on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, covering more two million hectares. (VOA)

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Australia Becomes World’s First Country To Pass Bill Accessing Encrypted Information

Tech giant Apple said in October that “it would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat.”

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Social Media, digital, Encryption
This photo taken March 22, 2018, shows apps for WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks on a smartphone. VOA

Security agencies will gain greater access to encrypted messages under new laws in Australia. The legislation will force technology companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google to disable encryption protections to allow investigators to track the communications of terrorists and other criminals. It is, however, a controversial measure.

Australian law enforcement officials say the growth of end-to-end encryption in applications such as Signal, Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage hamper their efforts to track the activities of criminals and extremists.

End-to-end encryption is a code that allows a message to stay secret between the person who wrote it and the recipient.

Data Recovery, encryption
The website of the Telegram messaging app is seen on a computer’s screen in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13, 2018. A Russian court has ordered the blocking of a popular messaging app following a demand by authorities that it share encryption data with them. VOA

PM: Law urgently needed

But a new law passed Thursday in Australia compels technology companies, device manufacturers and service providers to build in features needed for police to crack those hitherto secret codes. However, businesses will not have to introduce these features if they are considered “systemic weaknesses,” which means they are likely to result in compromised security for other users.

The Australian legislation is the first of its kind anywhere.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new law was urgently needed because encoded messaging apps allowed “terrorists and organized criminals and … pedophile rings to do their evil work.”

Critics: Law goes too far

However, critics, including technology companies, human rights groups, and lawyers, believe the measure goes too far and gives investigators “unprecedented powers to access encrypted communications.”

Google, Australia, encryption
A smartphone and computer screen display the Google home page. Australia is one step closer to forcing tech firms to give police access to encrypted data. VOA

Francis Galbally, the chairman of the encryption provider Senetas, says the law will send Australia’s tech sector into reverse.

“We will lose some of the greatest mathematicians and scientists this country has produced, and I can tell you because I employ a lot of them, they are fabulous, they are well regarded, but the world will now regard them if they stay in this country as subject to the government making changes to what they are doing in order to spy on everybody,” he said.

Galbally also claims that his company could lose clients to competitors overseas because it cannot guarantee its products have not been compromised by Australian authorities.

Also Read: Australia Shows Promise In Treatment of Multiple Scelrosis

Tech giant Apple said in October that “it would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat.”

The new law includes penalties for noncompliance. (VOA)