Australia has unveiled new legislation which will require international tech giants to help the authorities decode encrypted messages from suspected criminals. Critics warn of risks and potential privacy breaches.
“We need to ensure that the internet is not used as a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at a press conference Friday.
Under the new law, companies like Google and Facebook will have to cooperate with Australian police and intelligence by enabling them to read encoded messages “so that they can keep us safe.”
“The Australian Federal Police must have the powers – as do all our other intelligence and law enforcement agencies – to enforce the law online as well as offline,” the prime minister said.
Attorney-General George Brandis, also present at the conference, said that the new law is only seeking to “contemporise” existing legal principles to keep up with communications developments, calling the end-to-end encryption “potentially the greatest degradation of intelligence and law enforcement capability.”
End-to-end encryption implies that only communicating sides can read what is sent, with messages being secured with a special key so no one else, even the companies, are able to read them.