Australia to mandate police access to encrypted messages
Australia to mandate police access to encrypted messages
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14 July, 2017, 07:20
Mr Turnbull released new figures yesterday showing the impact of encrypted messages on investigations run by ASIO and the Australian Federal Police, as he seeks to bolster public support for moves to force technology giants to co-operate more closely with law enforcement.
"The rule of law must prevail online as it does offline", he told Sunrise, "and we expect the big internet companies to ensure that their platforms - wonderful and magnificent and ingenious as they are - can not be used by people to hide their plots, to commit acts of terrorism or criminal acts".
Similar laws already affected telco companies, he said. However, in the modern world, those communications were becoming hard to intercept.
"Obviously there is a contradiction in their attempts to increase cybersecurity against nation state attacks and at the same time, weakening encryption to allow them to access anyone's communications".
Now, Turnbull is talking up the need for the new laws, despite some tech companies previously pushing back against such requests from Government forces.
The legislation will require tech companies to "provide assistance to the police to enable them to have access to the information pursuant to a warrant", Turnbull said this morning.
"What this does is merely contemporise for the modern era what is a well-established legal principle, and that is persons, including companies, can be subject to an obligation to assist law enforcement in resolving crimes and that principle shouldn't depend upon the nature of the technology", Senator Brandis said.
The push to give police and security agencies greater access to messaging services is being modelled on new United Kingdom laws, even though experts say they may fall afoul of civil liberties principles as well as technical barriers. In 2013 only three percent of data collected by ASIO was encrypted, compared to nearly 55 percent in recent times.
So what do the Government want Google, Apple, Facebook and others to do? "It is likely to be prohibitively expensive and also an intractable foreign affairs problem", they argue.
He said people had reason to be concerned about what it could mean for them.
Numerous services that are in the government's crosshairs are those where now the service provider is itself unable to access the contents of a message.
Do they expect Apple to break the encryption of iMessages? And now, because of this end-to-end encryption, all of that information, all of that data.
The real issue - terrorists, criminals, the worst offenders, they just won't use these systems.
Leadership in this case is all talk. "The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only laws that applies in Australia is the law of Australia". How exactly would a government keep on top of every single app in the app store let alone those on the Dark Web?
Attorney-General George Brandis described the growth of encrypted communication applications such as WhatsApp, Signal, Facebook Messenger and iMessage as "potentially the greatest degradation of intelligence and law enforcement capability that we have seen in our lifetime".
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