Australian laws could force tech companies to hand over encrypted messages
A BACKDOOR BY ANY OTHER NAME.
PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM Turnbull recently announced the government’s intent to introduce new legislation that would force (or “oblige”) social media and messaging companies to decrypt secure messages for the sake of national security.
The proposed laws have been, at least in part, modelled off the current UK law on the issue — officially known as the Investigatory Powers Act, but often derisively referred to as the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ — which is similarly designed to negate the ‘safe spaces’ that encryption creates, which can be used by terrorist and criminal groups to communicate.
Unsurprisingly, there has been backlash against proposals of this nature, with Facebook (responsible for the encrypted messaging app WhatsApp) stating that while they “appreciate the important work law enforcement does... weakening encrypted systems for them would mean weakening it for everyone.”
Prime Minister Turnbull has stated that enforcing these laws does not have to involve building a backdoor into any of these secure apps (ie, a flaw in the encryption able to be exploited by law enforcement), but the problem of how this access will be granted without such a mechanism is yet to be explicitly addressed.