Australia is Not Interested in Privacy, Wants to Restrict Encryption - The UpStream

Australia is Not Interested in Privacy, Wants to Restrict Encryption

posted Sunday Aug 19, 2018 by Scott Ertz

Australia is Not Interested in Privacy, Wants to Restrict Encryption

Over the past few years, cryptography has been a big topic of conversation. First, cryptocurrencies have brought the topic into the mainstream, with the blockchains that most cryptocurrencies run on top of using various encryption methods to protect the blockchain data. Second, most major messaging systems have implemented encrypted messaging, with some (like Signal) using it always, and others (Facebook Messenger) enabling it as a setting. Third, most of the operating systems encrpt data with built-in technology, including Windows 10 and Android.

As more data is encrypted across the web, governments, especially those who value police presence over privacy, have gotten scared about their lack of ability to spy on people in the name of "investigation." In 2016, the US Federal Beaurau of Investigation tried to force Apple to unlock a phone, which was a capability the company simply does not have. If the government of Australia has their way, that scenario will be a thing of the past.

Angus Taylor, the minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security, has proposed a bill, entitled Assistance and Access Bill 2018, which would force tech companies who do business within Australia or provides their service to users within the country, to give access to data, encrypted or not. The concept has previously bee discussed in the US but has never survived a vote.

To be able to decrypt data, the tech companies would be required to have a universal encryption key. Just like any master key, once it exists, its possibility for abuse is almost 100%. If that key were to slip outside of the company, by a disgruntled employee or an underrated hacker, all of the encrypted data on the platform would be available to the world - making the encryption worthless.

This is the kind of law that causes companies to leave a country entirely, like Google News in Spain. For everyone who uses encryption, I hope this law does not go any farther.


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