Today, November 6, the Australian parliament passed a Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill, widely known as the “anti-encryption bill.” The bill has already managed to cause outrage from the public, in particular – representatives of the digital industry.
According to the new document, Australian law enforcement agencies may require any high-tech companies to create a backdoor to decrypt any user messages. It is easy to predict that worldwide customer confidence in products of Australian developers, both companies and individuals (to which the new rules also apply), will decrease. Moreover, the presence of similar loopholes in software, according to experts in matters of cryptography and privacy, like Damien Miller, makes it less reliable:
“I’ve spent >20 years building cryptography and security software. Now the Australian govt is considering laws that could coerce me to add backdoors. This is akin to requiring a doctor to infect a patient or an engineer to weaken a bridge.”
Other Twitter users point out that the “anti-encryption bill” will make Australian products incompatible with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Crypto enthusiast Andreas Antonopoulos claims that the Australian authorities are de facto suiciding their tech sector. The bill must still receive royal approval, which it is likely to receive.
However, everything is not so bad. Everything is much worse.
Back in early September, after a meeting of representatives of the member countries of the alliance consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain and the United States, known as Five Eyes, it was clear that the law enforcement and intelligence services of these countries very keen to have access to encrypted data, and governments will adjust their legislation accordingly.