“Nearly three years after the Federal Bureau of Investigation abandoned an effort to force Apple Inc. to extract data from an encrypted iPhone, technology companies are facing several new efforts from governments fighting for access to digital secrets,” Dustin Volz reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Australia and the U.K. have passed laws that make it easier for law enforcement to compel tech companies to turn over data, although the impact of those measures has yet to be tested. India is considering a sweeping law that would give authorities access to some data from the hugely popular WhatsApp messaging service within its borders, and the U.S. has signaled it has not given up on its efforts to get inside of encrypted devices such as Apple’s.”
“The so-called going-dark issue, or the government’s inability to access data as devices get more encoded and difficult to crack, ‘is a problem [that] infects law enforcement and the intelligence community more and more so every day,’ said Amy Hess, executive assistant director with the FBI, in an interview,” Volz reports. “Governments want access to user data to solve crimes and track potential threats. Silicon Valley companies, fearful that this access could be misused for spying or exploited by hackers, continue to build products that are so securely encrypted that the tech companies themselves are sometimes unable to access the data on them. And many tech companies are resisting any efforts to weaken their encryption capabilities.”
“On Thursday, a coalition of civil society groups, trade associations and nine tech companies, including Facebook Inc., which owns WhatsApp, Apple, Google, Twitter Inc. and Microsoft Corp. filed comments with the Australian government warning that the law, passed in December, could create back doors into technology products,” Volz reports. “The Australian, U.K., and Indian regulations have attracted the ire of privacy advocates, who said that they could undermine the security of end-to-end encryption… Alec Muffett, a former Facebook engineer who built Messenger’s end-to-end encryption capability, says that Mr. Levy’s proposal would create an unacceptable risk to user privacy. ‘What they’re talking about is requiring the ability to insert someone else into every conversation, to listen in, because that’s not a back door. But it’s worse than a back door,’ he said.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: These legislation efforts are crafted either by ignorant politicians (redundant, we know) or by government spooks looking to wipe feet on citizens’ rights.
Here is the Reform Government Surveillance coalition’s statement on the matter, verbatim:
One of the core principles of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition (RGS) is that strong encryption of devices and services protects the privacy and data security of our users, while also promoting free expression and the free flow of information around the world. RGS has consistently opposed any government action that would undermine the cybersecurity, human rights, or the right to privacy of our users – unfortunately, the Assistance and Access Bill that was just passed through the Australian Parliament will do just that. The new Australian law is deeply flawed, overly broad, and lacking in adequate independent oversight over the new authorities. RGS urges the Australian Parliament to promptly address these flaws when it reconvenes.
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
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 funds 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, Google, Microsoft, and others denounce Australia’s ‘deeply flawed’ anti-encryption law – December 11, 2018
Backdoors: Australia passes laws allowing spies and police to snoop on encrypted communications – December 7, 2018
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
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