With all the trouble the government is facing these days, one topic they are not shining a huge light on, is the new proposed data encryption laws. To recap what the government wants to do… They want to compell tech companies to break the encryption methods used to send secure messages over the internet, with their main justification to avoid terrorism. As it happens, the bad guys also use secure communication tools like WhatsApp to send their nasty messages.
There are a number of things that need to be considered. I am curious how Australia will enforce this rule. For one, most of these companies are US based, so Australian law do not necessarily apply to them. Worst case, we may see apps like WhatsApp either being banned from Australia all together, or have a “special”, weakened version just for Australia.
The Australian government, and even the opposition party has not given any details as to what the law will require. Encryption by its very nature is secure, and it secure for a reason. It protects your banking details, health information, your most private thoughts that is locked in your phone. By weakening the encryption protocol, the government not only creates a backdoor that can be exploited by bad actors, they open up the world to a “big brother” style of invasion of privacy.
Now before you jump up and down, and shout “I have nothing to hide”, or “stop the terrorists and allow this!”, do consider this. If a bad guy knows that a specifc tool is weakened, they will just use another process. They don’t have to use an Australian phobe, or even any of our apps. It is so easy to build strong, robust encrypted communication, that regardless of what laws are in place, it can stil be circumvented. In the end, all the government achieves is to distrust their own citizens, and creating an environment where our every move is watched, and judged.
I am really worried that the officials making these decisions are not listening to all the experts telling them this is a bad idea. I will be writing to my local member, Emma McBride (Labor) to raise my concerns on this matter.
Protect your privacy. It is your right.