As it turns out the Australian House of Representatives has actually passed the “Telecommunications Assistance and Access Bill”. It is basically an anti-privacy bill that should come in to effect as a law early in 2019. It basically requires tech companies to provide access to users encrypted data to law enforcement agencies. Talk of similar laws has been around for a long time already, but no one had actually passed such laws.
Although quite a few people are calling it an anti-encryption bill, it actually doesn’t require the weakening of end to end encryption in the applications/services. What they require is that access to unencrypted data be provided in from the end devices or from some other point where the data is in plain text form. In that sense it is a bit better than other anti-privacy laws that I have heard of. They have acknowledged that weakening the encryption would grant anyone access to the data. But is forcing tech companies to make call-home features or back-doors to everything better? I think that it is a bit better than having weak encryption.
But I also think that such anti-privacy features can still be abused by hackers. As soon as you add a back-door, there is a risk that someone could get access to it and abuse it. There is no guarantee that only the legitimate users would get access to it. And as always it is said that the features would be only used when necessary. So they are trying to say that it wouldn’t be an all-out spying campaign on all the users all the time. But then the good old question comes to mind. How can you be sure that they are not spying on everyone? Simple, you can’t be. As soon as the possibility of eavesdropping exists there is no guarantee of privacy.