Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Australia Anti-Encryption Law Rushed to Passage

Under the legislation police and intelligence agencies can force technology firms including Facebook and WhatsApp to remove encrypted protection for people under investigation Australia Anti-Encryption Law Rushed to Passage
Nellie Chapman | 08 December, 2018, 08:16

The new legislation forces companies to crack their own encryption when and if it's requested by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

"We now have a situation where unprecedented powers to access encrypted communications are now law, even though parliament knows serious problems exist."

The move makes Australia's state the first to be able to break the end-to-end encryption of Whatsapp, with other Western governments including the United Kingdom having shied away from doing so in the face of fierce criticism.

But in an eleventh-hour twist, Labour said that despite its reservations, it would pass the bill in the Senate, on the proviso that the coalition agreed to its amendments next year. Critics of the bill - and there are many, among them human rights groups, law groups, and cryptographers - say that it was rushed through Parliament despite vague language that leaves citizens vulnerable to having their data abused.

That said, it's not entirely clear if the Australian government will incorporate the changes Labor proposed into the law.

Go home, Australian government, you're drunk.

HAS voted to pass the Assistance and Access Bill, the controversial legislation that requires tech companies to allow decryption of messages from apps like Whatsapp.

The Australian Parliament said in the description of the new law that it was a direct result of law enforcement agencies not getting the technical assistance they believe they need.

"I will fight to get those encryption laws passed", Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra after Dreyfus spoke.

Labor has backed down completely on its opposition to the Assistance and Access Bill, and in the process has been totally outfoxed by a government that can barely control the floor of Parliament.

"What this law does is help codify a conversation between police and telecommunication companies, that has to be reasonable, has to be proportionate, and has to be technically feasible", he added.

When the bill becomes law, Australia will be one of the first nations to impose broad access requirements on technology firms, after many years of lobbying by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in many countries, particularly the so-called Five Eyes nations.

Mr Husic said this week's outcome was "not a flawless endpoint" and "there will be people who wonder why we did what we did".

He noted that the opposition Labor Party "had to be dragged to the table" and backed the legislation as an emergency measure out of concern extremists could target Christmas-New Year crowds. "What about the open source projects that will ask their Australian contributors to stop working on their security code, and businesses who will choose not to employ Australian developers, or decline to open offices in that country?" wrote Danny O'Brien, worldwide director at the EFF. The legislation says the government "must not require providers to implement or build systemic weaknesses in forms of electronic protection ('back doors')" but also says it can "require the selective deployment of a weakness or vulnerability in a particular service, device or item of software on a case-by-case basis".