CANBERRA, March 28 (Seal News) — Companies and foreign governments are reluctant to store data in Australia because of its encryption laws according to Microsoft president Brad Smith.

Speaking at an event in Canberra on Wednesday night, Smith said that the encryption laws passed by Parliament late in 2018 are damaging the Australian technology industry and the economy as a whole.

“When I travel to other countries I hear companies and governments say ‘we are no longer comfortable putting our data in Australia,’ so they are asking us to build more data centers in other countries,” he said, according to the report of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The laws gave intelligence agencies powers to access encrypted messages sent by suspected criminals and to compel technology companies to build capabilities allowing them to read otherwise hidden messages.

In advocating for the laws, the government argued that they were necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime.

However, Smith said that the legislation was too vague and had undermined Australia’s reputation as a safe place to store data.

“We will have to sort through those issues but if I were an Australian who wanted to advance the Australian technology economy, I would want to address that and put the minds of other like-minded governments at ease,” he said.

“It has not changed, to date, anything that we have had to do in Australia but we do worry about some areas of the law in terms of potential consequences,” he added.

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