Decryption key for Canberra?

The Government is expected to introduce new laws in the coming weeks creating access to encrypted messaging in Australia.

Commonwealth Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor said in a Radio Nation interview this week, “If law enforcement needs access to data in order to investigate what we believe on reasonable grounds is a crime or a potential terrorist act or a paedophile ring, they should be able to access it, but they should be able to access it in a way that does not weaken encryption.”

Obviously, the technical and the legal details have not been worked out, but Minister Taylor says the Commonwealth seeks to replicate in the digital landscape what exists in analogue communications surveillance.

The problem is not unique to Australia.

As previously reported in the Prototoype, China, the UK Home Office, and the US FBI have raised similar concerns especially following the 2015 San Bernardino, California and the 2017 UK Westminster attacks. Should law enforcement have a backdoor key? Should device manufacturers or app suppliers be compelled to decrypt messages or to build in decryption capability to new models? How could this work technically? A chief proponent of the free speech argument, Tim Cook defended Apple’s 2016 decision refusing to break into a terrorist’s iPhone saying, “If that same circumstance arose again, we would fight…. You can’t compel somebody to write something that would be bad for civilisation.”

Read more: ABC / SBS

Image: Pixabay / CC0-1.0 – Computer and phone

This story is taken from the 08 June 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.