Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull Displays Shocking Lack of Understanding of Encryption

The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, has indicated that the laws produced in Canberra are able to trump the laws of mathematics and also will apply to all citizens of all countries worldwide. Say what?

“The laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that,” he said on Friday. “The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”

In short, he stated that all encryption products used worldwide must have a not-so-secret “back door” that will allow Australian officials to monitor everything.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Turnbull on July 5:

“Just as the rule of law prevails in the analogue world so it must prevail in the cyber world and just as we are able with an appropriate legal authority, with a court order, with a warrant to get access to communications or confidential material that might be residing in somebody’s safe or in their filing cabinet somewhere, so access should be able to be had to information, to messaging that is currently encrypted.”

I wonder if he agrees that the Australian government, especially the Australian military, also would have to use the same weakened encryption products??? How about Australian banks? Obviously, secret “back doors” don’t remain secret very long. Foreign governments, terrorists, hackers, and other criminals almost always discover ways to unlock the back doors.

Also, why does Malcolm Turnbull believe that legal proceedings by the Australian government will force changes in other countries? Especially the countries that are home to terrorists? Does he also believe that making changes in Australian laws force all worldwide criminals to immediately change their ways and only use products that have weak “back doors?” After all, criminals traditionally ignore laws, regulations, executive orders, and other pronouncements from all governments. Passing a law or other legal requirement will only weaken the privacy of all law-abiding individuals. The criminals will continue to find and use encryption products that are secure, unable to be unlocked by any government. In fact, the publicity generated by this ridiculous legal issue will only encourage terrorists and other criminals who previously were unaware of the value of encryption.

I suspect that even most (previously) law-abiding individuals will do the same: find and use encryption products that are secure, unable to be unlocked by anyone. After all, who wants foreign governments, their own government, terrorists, hackers, or other criminals reading their personal information, especially information involving credit cards, bank accounts, investments, retirement funds, or similar information?

You can read more about this political stupidity in an article entitled Australia is now King Idiot of the internet by Chris Duckett in the ZDNet web site at:

Categories: Encryption, Legal Affairs

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