Australia is a funny place. It’s Western, but so far away that stories from there rarely reach US or European shores. The country’s media being practically owned by Rupert Murdoch might also have something to do with that, but in recent years there is a lot going on in Australia that the rest of the world should be paying attention to. The fact that it has effectively banned encryption should be high on that list.
The Encryption Law forces companies to give encrypted data to police if they ask for it. Companies also have to build tools to bypass encryption. The bill was sneakily rushed through by lower house of the Australian parliament even though it was supposed to be debated in the upper Senate ahead of it being passed.
Companies can be fined up to 10m Australian dollars and individuals can be imprisoned if they don’t hand over data linked to suspected illegal activities. Australian politicians say these laws are needed to counter terrorism and organized crime.
It doesn’t matter that reports say the Encryption Bill will damage Australia’s security industry for many a long year to come. Innovators will go elsewhere and there will be a perception that Australian security products cannot be trusted.
The ban could also make the land down under a global weak point. The internet doesn’t have our border control so Australia could be the point of a hackers delight.
Authorities in Australia, as well as other global powerful governmental entities such as NSA and the FBI say that terrorists and criminals are having a great time because of E2E encryption messaging. They say the technology to avoid surveillance. And, yes, I’m sure they do, but terrorists also use toilets. Should we ban toilets?
Under Australia’s legislation, companies can be forced to make a back door access to encrypted messages without the user’s knowledge. Anybody who knows anything about encryption knows that this is crazy. There is no way of creating a back door for just one person. If it is created, then no one has that privacy and hackers will have a field day. If criminals take advantage of encryption, imagine the fun they can have with this security black hole!
The law is ludicrous and Orwellian and we should be kicking and screaming about it from the rooftops. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the excellent nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, has said the law means police could even order individual IT developers to create technical functions without their company’s knowledge. So, Australian tech firms might not even know if they were subject to an order.
But don't worry, it's going to make us all safer as this video explains.