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The Australian government wants better internet security

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June 27, 2017

The government of Australia wants better encryption technology and will make its point at this week’s Five Eyes security conference. It will also encourage other nations to do the same.

The so-called 'Five Eyes' nations consist of Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

They each have an agreement to gather and share cyber security intelligence and are meeting this week to discuss various security topics related to the internet.

The conference is largely expected to focus on how to force technology companies to introduce back-doors into their previously encrypted products. Some controversy is expected, mostly coming from the U.S.

The British government has already indicated it's seriously considering going down that path. Such plans have been met with some resistance so far, but its Australian counterpart has been more forthright in its praise of the concept.

In a public statement, Australian attorney general George Brandis asserted that he would “raise the need to seriously address several ongoing challenges posed by terrorists and criminals using encryption technology” as his government’s priority issue at the Five Eyes meeting in Canada.

“These ongoing discussions will focus mainly on the need to cooperate with service providers to ensure reasonable assistance is provided to law enforcement and cyber security agencies,” Brandis asserted.

Meanwhile, and as controversy would have it, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull used a speech this weekend to emphasise his government would be pushing for weaker encryption measures at the two-day meeting.

“The internet cannot be an ungoverned space,” he warned. “We cannot continue to allow terrorists and extremists to use it as well as social media and messaging platforms, most of which are hosted in the United States, to spread their poison.”

He then went on to say that one of the key focuses of the Canadian Five Eyes meeting would be on how to prevent terrorists and criminals from using these extraordinary tools.

Turnbull added that “the rule of law must prevail everywhere online was well as it does today in the analog offline world” - although arguably asking firms to introduce back doors would effectively open up Joe Public’s online interactions to interference in a way that the rule of law in the analog world does not.

Meanwhile, the cyber criminals would most likely get around the law by developing their own illegal encrypted messaging apps. Turnbull said his government would raise the debate at the G20 summit on July 7 and 8.

The rotating presidency of the G20 currently lies with Germany, another nation that has recently come out in favour of anti-encryption laws.

In mid-May, German interior minister Thomas de Maizière said his government was preparing a new law that would allow authorities to decipher and read private encrypted messages.

Source: The Government of Australia.

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