Decryption rush stalls
Labor appears to be resisting the Government’s call to back its decryption bill.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused opposition leader Bill Shorten of being “happy” for terrorists to plot attacks, as Labor has refused to back laws that would give security and police agencies access to encrypted communications.
“Labor are quite happy for terrorists and organised criminals to chat on WhatsApp, leaving our security agencies in the dark,” Mr Morrison told The Australian on Monday.
“There is no excuse for this type of weakness.”
Labor appears to be siding with technology giants and industry groups against the legislation, which they warn would expose Australia to hacking and security breaches.
The Government wants the power to compel tech companies – from the tiniest component-makers to giants like Google and Facebook – to build new “capabilities” to get around encryption.
Nigel Phair - a former high-tech crime investigator with the Australian Federal Police – says government agencies would need tech companies to bypass encrypted communications on suspects’ phones.
“Going through the device would be the easiest thing,” he told SBS News.
“That would be either through a key-stroke logger, maybe an additional secretive app downloaded on to [the device], maybe through an update of the other apps that are on the device.”
Many are concerned about the prospect of agencies forcing tech companies to install secret software that monitors a phone’s keyboard strokes, or captures screenshots.
The companies that make these products say creating security flaws would make users less safe, not more.
Labor has been working with the government’s cross-party Intelligence committee on some amendments, but the PM wants the bill out of the committee’s hands and into parliament this year.
The Law Council of Australia says the bill is far too complex to be rammed through parliament in a few short days.
“The parliament must proceed with caution to ensure we get it right. Rushed law can make bad law,” president-elect Arthur Moses told reporters.