Backdoors: Australia passes laws allowing spies and police to snoop on encrypted communications

“Australia Thursday passed controversial laws allowing spies and police to snoop on the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals, as experts warned the ‘unprecedented powers’ had far-reaching implications for global cybersecurity,” AFP reports. “There has been extensive debate about the laws and their reach beyond Australia’s shores in what is seen as the latest salvo between global governments and tech firms over national security and privacy.”

“Under the legislation, Canberra can compel local and international providers — including overseas communication giants such as Facebook and WhatsApp — to remove electronic protections, conceal covert operations by government agencies, and help with access to devices or services,” AFP reports. “National cyber security adviser Alastair MacGibbon said police have been “going blind or going deaf because of encryption” used by suspects. Brushing off warnings from tech giants that the laws would undermine internet security, MacGibbon said they would be similar to traditional telecommunications intercepts, just updated to take in modern technologies.”

“The Law Council of Australia, the peak body for the legal profession, said it had ‘serious concerns’ about the changes. ‘We now have a situation where unprecedented powers to access encrypted communications are now law, even though parliament knows serious problems exist,’ it said in a statement,” AFP reports. “Experts such as the UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy Joseph Cannataci have described the bill as ‘poorly conceived’ and ‘equally as likely to endanger security as not.'”

Tim de Sousa, a principal at privacy and cybersecurity consultancy elevenM, told AFP, ‘If you require encryption to be undermined to help law enforcement investigations, then you are ultimately undermining that encryption in all circumstances. Those backdoors will be found and exploited by others, making everyone less secure.’ Meanwhile, the Australian legislation could allow for policy laundering by its ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing partners — Canada, Britain, New Zealand, and the United States — who cannot enact similar powers because of constitutional or human rights protections. ‘There is an extraterritorial dimension to it, where for example the US would be able to make… a request directly to Australia to get information from Facebook or a tech company,’ said Queensland University of Technology’s technology regulation researcher Monique Mann.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So these blooming idiots in Australia have passed a law requiring everyone to weaken their products to the point of destruction. We’ll see which companies comply or not and how long this idiocy remains on the books before being amended out of existence.

Once again, for the myopic dullards who voted for this mentally-deficient, incongruous, and illogical farce:

Encryption is binary; it’s either on or off. You cannot have both. You either have privacy via full encryption or you don’t by forcing back doors upon Apple or anybody else. It’s all or nothing. — MacDailyNews, March 8, 2017

Why don’t these genius politicians next attempt to legislate in purple unicorns? They’re equally as plentiful as secure backdoors.MacDailyNews, October 3, 2018

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

This is not about this phone. This is about the future. And so I do see it as a precedent that should not be done in this country or in any country. This is about civil liberties and is about people’s abilities to protect themselves. If we take encryption away… the only people that would be affected are the good people, not the bad people. Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption is readily available in every country in the world, as a matter of fact, the U.S. government sponsors and funs encryption in many cases. And so, if we limit it in some way, the people that we’ll hurt are the good people, not the bad people; they will find it anyway. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, February 2016

Apple to Australia: This is no time to weaken encryption; access only for ‘good guys’ is a false premise – October 13, 2018
Apple urges Australian government not to destroy encryption with ‘backdoors’ – October 12, 2018
Apple, other tech giants denounce proposed Australian law seeking encryption ‘backdoor’ – October 3, 2018
More proof that iPhone backdoors are a stupid idea: Massive cache of law enforcement personnel data leaks – July 2, 2018
Bipartisan ‘Secure Data Act’ would make it illegal for U.S. government to demand backdoors – May 11, 2018
Bill Gates thinks Apple should unlock iPhones at the government’s request – February 13, 2018
FBI Director Wray calls inability to access electronic devices an ‘urgent public safety issue’ – January 9, 2018
Tim Cook’s refusal to create iPhone backdoor for FBI vindicated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack on Windows PCs – May 15, 2017
The Microsoft Tax: Leaked NSA malware hijacks Windows PCs worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – May 13, 2017
Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that ‘back doors’ are a stupid idea – August 10, 2016
U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu says strong encryption without backdoors is a ‘national security priority’ – April 29, 2016
iPhone backdoors would pose a threat, French privacy chief warns – April 8, 2016
The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time – March 14, 2016
Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backs U.S. government overreach on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – March 11, 2016
Former CIA Director: FBI wants to dictate iPhone’s operating system – March 11, 2016
FBI warns it could demand Apple’s iPhone code and secret electronic signature – March 10, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
Snowden: U.S. government’s claim it can’t unlock San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’ – March 10, 2016
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013


  1. Well I am so totally surprised that it took them so long to get around it. The nanny state strikes again. What a laugh. Thanks for posting this MDN, it sure added to my smile today.

  2. No surprise, coming from a conservative government.

    Yes, conservative, it’s right in the article: “The conservative government had pushed for the bill to be passed before parliament rises for the year this week, saying the new powers were needed to thwart terror attacks during the festive period.”

    Don’t get confused by official party names, the Liberal/National coalition is centre-right. The Liberal Party “broadly represents businesses, the urban middle classes and many rural people” and the National party is “a conservative party which represents rural interests”.

  3. This sort of fits and I paraphrase with liberties:

    “Those who would give up essential security, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither security nor safety.”
    –Benjamin Franklin

    1. I doubt there is any temporary safety. The bad guys will just start encrypting their own private messages while the rest of us are thrown under the bus. This measure will accomplish absolutely no benefit while inflicting incalculable harm.

      One feature of this amazing act allows the police to force individual IT workers to break security and forbids them from telling anyone, including their own employers. So an Apple employee could be forced to build a backdoor into an Apple app, and Apple wouldn’t even know about it… much less be given a chance to contest the order!

  4. Love Australia, but questionable government, that’s for sure. Have changed their leader 5 times in the last 8 years. Should really get their own leadership house in order! Anyhow, great place, love Australia!!

    1. That seems to be quite a change of heart, Mr Warrior, and a welcome one. 🙂 MUCH better than calling us Anustralians because you were unfortunate enough to meet some of our more retarded citizens.

        1. Oh, I always got the impression that he hates some of the US gubmint’s grossly hypocritical behaviour (y’know, the sort of behaviour all gubmints are so fond of), not the country itself or its citizens.

      1. Just to clarify, the “Road Warrior” you replied to is not the one that has use the term anustralia, I am and the post I made is at Friday, December 7, 2018 – 10:23 am.

        It’s happened before and normally you could tell us apart because I appeared as registered, however I now appear as unregistered for reasons as yet unknown (and yes I contact MDN about it to no avail).

        I hope that clears things up.

          1. I really don’t understand why people come to the conclusion that I’m the one with the hate. I never attacked nor assaulted anyone there but the times I ended up in a reenactment of the Battle of Brisbane happened so often that I left the place more like escape but that’s a an involved story.

            It’s a beautiful country, like the other Road Warrior said and I’ll leave it at that.

  5. “Blooming Idiots”…I don’t think we’ve used that term since the 1950s. That was during a period when Americans and Brits tried (and failed) to speak like A’stralians (local pronunciation).

    In other news this government will be out on their arse (and we do use that expression) at next May’s election but given the importance of security as an electoral issue in Australia I’m doubtful that a Labor government would significantly amend this legislation, if at all.

  6. The problem for the Labor opposition is that they are worried that if there was a terrorist attack over Christmas then they’d be blamed for it and this party is a special to form government after next May’s election (and current odds for the Australian Labor Party are $1.16 on and the government it is $4.25 against).

    The situation is so bad for the conservative government that they have effectively prorogued parliament to avoid losing votes in the House of Representatives. In effect their ability to govern and their morale is slipping away to the point that some of their members of parliament are openly talking about life after politics.

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