UN Expert Tells Government To Get Over It When It Comes To Encryption Laws

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur, Joe Cannataci, has told a joint parliamentary committee that the government's proposed “Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 will lead to invasions of privacy and do nothing to actually thwart crime. He told the committee that increased use of encryption is not a problem and that criminals will simply use their own systems rather than commercially available ones.

Cannataci told the committee ""Everybody is going to use encryption, and so they should, get over it".

It seems that the government is really clueless when it comes to understanding how encryption works. So, I'm going to make it simple.

  1. When encryption is deployed correctly, the only way around it is to have a key to decipher the encrypted data
  2. The tools to encrypt data are freely available and, these days, are relatively easy to deploy
  3. If the government forces tech companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and others to hand over the keys to their systems, the bad guys will make their own encrypted comms channels, thereby bypassing the new laws completely

Given the government can't even use the data it already has to prevent serious crime, it's hard to see how having more data will help them.

The government's reputation for allowing scope creep on security matters is well earned with news this week that the ATO will be getting access to telecommunications metadata as part of a black economy crackdown - clearly that's the main game for the child exploiters and terrorists we were assured was the focus for this legislation. But I guess that's the job of the Queensland greyhound racing industry and NSWS fisheries and wildlife folks who also have access to the data.

The government seems determined to press for this legislation to get passed - something Cannataci says is resulting in a "rushed job". Maybe they're pushing for it before their dwindling power over the parliament is further eroded. But with the government now needing to negotiate with more people on the cross-bench and federal election looking in the first half of 2019, the government seems determined to push for these new laws even if they will prove useless in stopping criminals and open up our personal communications and data for potential abuse.


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