Australia’s early plans for ‘dangerous’ encryption law revealed

Documents show Canberra began seeking powers to crack encrypted communications nearly two years before unveiling law.


By John Power

Australia began discussing ways to crack encryption used by platforms such as WhatsApp as early as 2015.


The Australian government began seeking controversial powers to crack encrypted communications almost two years before unveiling landmark anti-encryption legislation branded “dangerous” by tech industry leaders, newly obtained documents reveal.


Australia in 2018 passed world-first laws to force tech companies and service providers to build capabilities allowing law enforcement secret access to messages on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook – such as push notifications that download malware to a target’s computer or phone.


The legislation, which Canberra said was necessary to prevent “terrorists” and other serious criminals from hiding from the law, drew fierce opposition from privacy experts and tech industry players, who warned that undermining encryption could compromise the privacy and security of millions of people worldwide.


Previously unseen documents obtained by Al Jazeera under freedom of information laws show that Canberra’s push to get around encrypted communications, which are invisible to third parties, was in the works at least as far back as 2015.


Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled legislation to tackle encrypted communications in July 2017, declaring the internet should not be used as “a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law”.


Read the full article from Aljazeera here

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