Australian parliament will debate bill to weaken encryption by end of 2018

Posted:
in General Discussion
Australia's government will debate proposed legislation before the end of this year that could force Apple and other companies to introduce backdoors into their products and services, such as the iPhone or iMessage, under the guise of assisting with national security and law enforcement investigations.




The government's list of legislation proposed for introduction in the spring parliamentary sittings includes a reference to a bill to update the country's telecommunications-related laws. Spotted by The Register, the section of the document briefly mentions the bill aims to "address the impact of encrypted communications and devices" in relation to security agency activities and investigations by the police.

"The bill provides a framework for agencies to work with the private sector so that law enforcement can adapt to the increasingly complex online environment" the document reads. "The bill requires both domestic and foreign companies supplying services to Australia to provide greater assistance to agencies."

While the document does not specifically state what this could entail, it does refer to a speech by Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor from June. In the speech, Taylor mentions the challenge encryption poses for law enforcement agencies in gathering evidence for convictions, and to pre-empt terrorism, and the need for the telecommunications industry and tech companies to be obliged to work with the agencies.

Advising that consultation on new legislation would take place in the following weeks, to "modernize our telecommunications intercept and search warrant powers," Taylor is quick to add the legislation will not create a "backdoor," with the government committed to not going down that route.

"It isn't necessary to give law enforcement agencies access to a decryption key otherwise under the sole control of a user," advised the minister. "We simply don't need to weaken encryption in order to get what we need."

While the wording could suggest the agencies would be able to demand service providers, such as Apple for iMessage and iCloud, hand over data in some way before it is encrypted for transit online, such a move would erode the trust the platform would have from the public. In many cases, where the data sent to the company's servers are encrypted at the user's end, or in the case of end-to-end encryption for messaging services, the company simply cannot access the data at all.

Even though the government wouldn't ask for direct access via a backdoor, the companies could effectively be asked to create their own private backdoor and provide data on request.

Apple has long argued against the creation of backdoors or any actions that deteriorates the security of its products. Speaking in March against renewed attempts by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to create backdoors, senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi advised "Weakening security makes no sense when you consider that customers rely on our products to keep their personal information safe, run their businesses, or even manage vital infrastructure like power grids and transportation systems."

The resistance from tech companies have so far halted the introduction of backdoors in similar legislative maneuvers. In 2016, the U.K. Parliament eliminated encryption backdoors from its Investigatory Powers Bill before passing it, following pressure from tech firms and campaigners.

This hasn't stopped some ministers from attempting to reintroduce backdoors, with U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling for access to encrypted communications services in 2017.

In the United States, one proposal for the "Secure Data Act" aims to end the ongoing calls from law enforcement for backdoors, by blocking courts and federal agencies from making such demands.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,414member
    I think they have this upside down.
    razorpitSpamSandwichGG1bigbillygoatgruffjony0
  • Reply 2 of 20
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,184member
    So the new thing seem to be wanting a Backdoor, but trying to call it something else. A backdoor is a Backdoor no matter what name you slap onto it.
    razorpitmagman1979oseamearthurbaStrangeDayslostkiwijony0
  • Reply 3 of 20
    Politicians, the driving force of civilization. Always think of things the society don’t need. 
    razorpitmagman1979olslostkiwijony0
  • Reply 4 of 20
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,503member
    viclauyyc said:
    Politicians, the driving force of civilization. Always think of things the society don’t need. 
    You know, like grammar checkers.

    This is easily solved with legislation: simply require owners of such technology to register their passwords with a government agency. If you change your password, you will need to update the registry. Failure to do so brings penalties. Done.


    mjtomlinmagman1979
  • Reply 5 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,490member
    MacPro said:
    I think they have this upside down.
    I think you win this thread.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,490member
    All of the politicians there who are proposing this weakening of encryption should be a target of every hacker on the planet. They’d learn the importance of strong encryption fast enough.
    magman1979oseamearthurbaolsjony0
  • Reply 7 of 20
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,028member
    eightzero said:
    viclauyyc said:
    Politicians, the driving force of civilization. Always think of things the society don’t need. 
    You know, like grammar checkers.

    This is easily solved with legislation: simply require owners of such technology to register their passwords with a government agency. If you change your password, you will need to update the registry. Failure to do so brings penalties. Done.



    Completely agree. If a government wants to make their population more vulnerable, then it should be on them to do it, not the "tech" companies. Require a "license" to own a device with strong encryption. What government doesn't love another level of bureaucratic bullshit thrust on their citizens?
  • Reply 8 of 20
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 368member
    The flat earthers say Australia isn't a real place. So we have nothing to worry about!  :D
  • Reply 9 of 20
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,673member
    Let see if Apple has the guts to stand up, it is one thing to go into the China Market, knowing full well it is communist country and the government controls everything. If Australia decides to make a law to allow them full access to your phone and their private ideas and thoughts. Apple should just pull out of the market and say they are not going to participate in helping that gain access to people's private information.

    I am near certain if Apple pulled out of the market, the citizens will have something to say about it and vote those people who passed the law out of office.

    magman1979olslostkiwi
  • Reply 10 of 20
    oseameoseame Posts: 57member
    eightzero said:
    This is easily solved with legislation: simply require owners of such technology to register their passwords with a government agency. If you change your password, you will need to update the registry. Failure to do so brings penalties. Done.
    "In other news, the passwords of every Australian citizen were released today by WikiLeaks after a teen hacker found the database was stored on a system running Windows '95. Prime Minister Tucker has called for the populace to remain calm and take a sledgehammer to any network connected device before their better halves take a look at their message logs, and has frozen all digital payments in the country which have been temporarily replaced by a barter system based on fosters and vegemite."
    edited August 2018 SpamSandwichbigbillygoatgruffarthurbaolsradarthekatwatto_cobramuthuk_vanalingamjony0
  • Reply 11 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,887member
    The liberal party behaves more like labor lite these days. This sort of legislation is another examples the party’s founders would not have tolerated. They are dead, just waiting for the next election to see how much its base has deserted it. Might as well vote for the real thing and get it over with.oh yes, our betters made it compulsory to vote and for e you to allocate preferences so one of the two majors almost always gets voted in in each electorate.
    The liberal party of Australia (the original use of the term, not the way Americans use it tommeans socialists) used to be a small business family focussed political party with the small government orientation that implies. Now it is all in for the political class of Big Business, Big Union and Big Government, just like the other side.
    Gotta control the peasants in case they start thinking about going troppo.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 20
    arthurbaarthurba Posts: 108member
    I guess I’m slow off the mark here - but I just realised the big ‘weakness’ in iMessages in the Cloud. It means that now Apple can decrypt those messages using their iCloud key. I think this is exactly the type of weakening of the encryption that the government is asking for.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-14/tech-surveillance-laws-less-of-a-back-door-and-more-a-side-gate/10114534
  • Reply 13 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,490member
    entropys said:
    The liberal party behaves more like labor lite these days. This sort of legislation is another examples the party’s founders would not have tolerated. They are dead, just waiting for the next election to see how much its base has deserted it. Might as well vote for the real thing and get it over with.oh yes, our betters made it compulsory to vote and for e you to allocate preferences so one of the two majors almost always gets voted in in each electorate.
    The liberal party of Australia (the original use of the term, not the way Americans use it tommeans socialists) used to be a small business family focussed political party with the small government orientation that implies. Now it is all in for the political class of Big Business, Big Union and Big Government, just like the other side.
    Gotta control the peasants in case they start thinking about going troppo.
    One neat thing about this thread is the use of local euphemisms and dialect. Great stuff.
    gatorguyCrowDazzlewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 20
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,764member
    entropys said:
    The liberal party behaves more like labor lite these days. This sort of legislation is another examples the party’s founders would not have tolerated. They are dead, just waiting for the next election to see how much its base has deserted it. Might as well vote for the real thing and get it over with.oh yes, our betters made it compulsory to vote and for e you to allocate preferences so one of the two majors almost always gets voted in in each electorate.
    The liberal party of Australia (the original use of the term, not the way Americans use it tommeans socialists) used to be a small business family focussed political party with the small government orientation that implies. Now it is all in for the political class of Big Business, Big Union and Big Government, just like the other side.
    Gotta control the peasants in case they start thinking about going troppo.
    Liberal doesn't mean "socialists" in the US, either (only to trolls, perhaps). Liberals is the US is just the other side of spectrum from conservatives, each with their preferred planks and world view.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    anomeanome Posts: 1,303member
    entropys said:
    The liberal party behaves more like labor lite these days. This sort of legislation is another examples the party’s founders would not have tolerated. They are dead, just waiting for the next election to see how much its base has deserted it. Might as well vote for the real thing and get it over with.oh yes, our betters made it compulsory to vote and for e you to allocate preferences so one of the two majors almost always gets voted in in each electorate.
    The liberal party of Australia (the original use of the term, not the way Americans use it tommeans socialists) used to be a small business family focussed political party with the small government orientation that implies. Now it is all in for the political class of Big Business, Big Union and Big Government, just like the other side.
    Gotta control the peasants in case they start thinking about going troppo.

    I don't think that's how Sir Robert Menzies really pictured it. And certainly, in the 70s, they fell into the neo-liberal agenda like the other conservative parties around the world. Hawke's Labor party really fell into line with them on economic principles, while still maintaining a façade of a Labor-friendly social agenda.

    And the Liberal Party? Big Union? The same party that has been dismantling workers' rights, penalty rates, and collective bargaining? That held a Royal Commission into the Unions purely based on their influence on the Labor Party? The Labor Party founded by the Union Movement at the turn of last century? (And when are we going to get the RC into the IPA's influence on the Liberal Party?).

    And Big Government? Really? Every department, including the Peter Dutton Self-Aggrandisement Agency, is facing severe cuts, efficiency dividends, and loss of workers' rights across the board. At the same time, they're having to make up the shortfall caused by imposed staff reduction targets by hiring private industry consultants who end up costing the tax-payer more per head than the public servants being forced out, without any noticeable improvement in the quality of work.

    If you think the modern Liberal Party is about anything other than propping up its big business masters, you're sadly mistaken. Even Turnbull, who might be considered (slightly) less conservative than his cabinet, is beholden to the extreme right and pro-business wings of the party lest he lose control, or half the party goes and joins Cory Bernadi. That's why we had the ridiculous "Postal Poll" for Marriage Equality. He clearly could have done it without the poll, since the mood of the population was pretty clear, but he didn't want to offend the right wing religious nutters.

    And Preferential Voting (or Single Transferable, or Alternative Vote) gives a bigger chance to non-mainstream parties than simple First Past the Post, it's just that our smaller parties are mostly full of nutbags that no-one wants anything to do with. So they end up in the Senate, with way too much power. Two Party politics isn't the fault of the voting system, it's the fault of the voters. (And the two main parties who have a vested interest in stopping the voters from learning about other parties.)

    watto_cobramattinoz
  • Reply 16 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,887member

    And the Liberal Party? Big Union? The same party that has been dismantling workers' rights, penalty rates, and collective bargaining? That held a Royal Commission into the Unions purely based on their influence on the Labor Party? The Labor Party founded by the Union Movement at the turn of last century? (And when are we going to get the RC into the IPA's influence on the Liberal Party?).
    As I recall, Turnbull payed a clearly dead bat on that. Because he is part of the system, pro big business, just like Shorten.  If you look at those actions you ail against you can see why the libs used to be the party of small business, but those old types in the LPA are gone now, just like the ALP types with actual shop floor experience are all gone and have been usurped by inner city public servant types who think every so,Union is more government and regulation. Those industrial regulatory frameworks you seem all for actually favour big business which has the capacity to use them to keep the little guy from getting too competitive.  A happy little collusion between Big Gov, Big Union and Big Business. Lib, lab no difference. It is all about them. 

    That you bring up a minor little privately funded think tank with little influence in the real world is laughable. Bugga bugga! The libs don’t listen to a free market libertarian think tank like the IPA any more than labor listens to the Australia institute, the Grattan institute, the climate institute etc etc. the only purpose of these think tanks these days is a temporary sinbin for the great and good until their factions can rehabilitate them.

    i also think you could have a real clear look at preference get, and what happens when preferences are made optional. It might be enlightening..the senate is a whole other problem.



  • Reply 17 of 20
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,373member
    I hope that Apple just pull out of Australia and let the angered rioting masses sort the Government out.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,149member
    evilution said:
    I hope that Apple just pull out of Australia and let the angered rioting masses sort the Government out.
    But they should try and get a couple of sevice updates without government malware first so we can get a bug fixed IOS12 before turning off auto-update.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    nousernouser Posts: 65member
    There are a ton of encryption applications freely available via the internet. A Google search of "Free encryption applications" turned up 93,700,000 hits.  If the Australian officials  attempt to force Apple to create a backdoor into Apple's encryption, they also would need to secure backdoors to all of these applications, many of which are developed in countries that would give Australia the middle finger.

    Apple has a reputation of being one of the staunchest supporters of user data privacy among the technology companies.  Sort of a red line so to speak.  Everyone with even a half of a brain knows a backdoor would be hacked or leaked within months, maybe weeks, of release as would all your banking, purchasing and privacy. Really, without privacy, I have little use for a smart phone.

    As mentioned by another poster, removal of Apple tech from the Australian market would very likely result in the removal of the officials responsible.  Australia, how is it you are electing such low IQ officials?
    edited August 2018 lostkiwi
  • Reply 20 of 20
    I could talk about how useless it would be to attempt to make a private company open its VPN. I could talk about, oh I dont know, free encrypted browsers. Pointless though. It is functionally impossible to open a closed network, if one wishes it to remain closed. Someone just like me will, if motivated, simply create a further level of encryption. It would be both fun, and indeed the right thing to do.
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