A new cybersecurity law was proposed by the Australian government, which would force global technology companies to help police by unscrambling encrypted messages sent by suspected other criminals.
Facebook and some experts warned that reducing the of end-to-end encryption services, would leave communications vulnerable to hackers.
Britain’s Investigatory Powers Act is the model for this law, Britain’s intelligence agencies now have some of the most extensive surveillance powers in the Western world thanks to this act.
Officials said that the Australian law will be presented to Parliament by November. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that internet companies would have the obligations to help the law enforcement, if this law passed the Pariament. Warrant will, of course be needed to access the communications.
“We’ve got a real problem in that the law enforcement agencies are increasingly unable to find out what terrorists and drug traffickers and pedophile rings are up to because of the very high levels of encryption,” Turnbull said, and added, “Where we can compel it, we will, but we will need the cooperation from the tech companies.”
Government did expect resistance from tech companies, but was surprised when some companies said they “know morally they should” cooperate.
Turnbull also said “There is a culture, particularly in the United States, a very libertarian culture, which is quite anti-government in the tech sector,” adding that “We need to say with one voice to Silicon Valley and its emulators: ‘All right, you’ve devised these great platforms, now you’ve got to help us to ensure that the rule of law prevails.”
The growth of the encrypted communication applications such is “potentially the greatest degradation of intelligence and law enforcement capability that we have seen in our lifetime,” Attorney-General George Brandis said.
Brandis had meeting with the British government’s chief cryptographer last week and believes in the possibility of decoding encrypted messages in a time frame that police needed to act. That could be achieved through built-in weaknesses that allowed a tech company access to a communication but could also leave it vulnerable to hackers also known as back doors, Brandis stated.
Facebook statement said, “Weakening encrypted systems for them (police) would mean weakening it for everyone.”
In last week’s G20 summit a statement was issued which asked tech industry to provide “lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information” that governments need to protect its citizens against terrorist threats. Australia was one oh leading counties that supported that statement.
Communication traffic that is monitored and that is encrypted had grown from 3 percent to 55 percent in only a few years, the Australian Federal Police stated. They added that 65 percent of organized crime like terrorism and pedophilia involves some sort of encryption.