FastMail loses customers, faces calls to pass anti-encryption laws


The hosted e-mail provider, FastMail, said it has lost customers and is facing "regular" requests to transfer its operations outside of Australia following the adoption of anti-encryption laws.

The Victorian company, which offers ad-free e-mail services to users in 150 countries, told a Senate committee that the laws now in place were starting to hurt.

"The way in which [the laws] were introduced, debated and finally passed … creates the perception that Australia has changed – that we are no longer a country respecting the right to privacy, "said Bron Gondwana, CEO of FastMail. [pdf]

"We have already seen an impact on our business caused by this perception.

"Our service is not significantly affected because we are already responding to mandates under the
Telecommunications Act.

"We have seen existing clients leave and potential customers go elsewhere, citing this bill as the reason for their choice.

"We are [also] Clients regularly ask us if we are planning to move. "

Gondwana's comments are similar to those of Senetas, who said it now responds "regularly to questions" from customers about the impact of anti-encryption laws on the products they have installed and that they use. . Senetas also said his sales pipeline was tarnished.

FastMail also used its presentation to the Senate committee to raise concerns that secret "technical capabilities" added to products and services to help law enforcement agencies are unlikely to remain secret for long.

In addition, he added that the technical capabilities could be removed and destroyed internally by coders not familiar with these capabilities, even in the code base.

"Our staff is curious and capable. If our system behaves unexpectedly, it will try to understand why. This is a key element of bug discovery and the security of our systems, "Gondwana said.

"Technology is the do-it-yourselfer's arena. Tools exist to monitor network data and system calls, and give computer users unparalleled observability.

"Exfiltration codes for secret data can be discovered by DIYers or even by anti-virus companies examining unexpected behavior.