On encryption and backdoors

For those people who think that it’s appropriate, measured and useful for the Attorney General Senator George Brandis and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to be talking about forcing tech companies and ISPs to insert backdoors into their products to enable near real-time decryption of messages, my colleagues in the IT Professionals Association (formerly SAGE-Au) have something for you to consider right now:


We’ve already had the Crypto Wars, and the insanity which was the Clipper Chip. We don’t need to revisit that time. We don’t need to go back to the time when encryption was decreed to be a munition, and therefore subject to export controls.

Don’t think this is just about messaging (whether instant or email), either. Think about your internet banking options - not feasible to trust without strong encryption. Think about the intellectual property or your client records which your company has developed, keeps behind a firewall and requires authentication to access.

Think about your personal health records. Your tax records. The security of all these things from people who could and would do you harm is compromised when governments mandate backdoors into the security software which protects them.

What we really, desperately, need, is for government (of all stripes, and in all countries) to recognise that they cannot solve their terrrrrrrism problems by making everybody less safe.

Maths isn’t the problem here.