Aus­tralian laws could force tech com­pa­nies to hand over en­crypted mes­sages

A BACK­DOOR BY ANY OTHER NAME.

TechLife Australia - - HOTSPOT - [ HARRY DOMANSKI ]

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.

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