The Australian Government recently announced it was introducing laws that would, or could, force internet companies to assist police with getting communications and information data, and more specifically, assistance with encrypted data. While it sounds like a big deal, it is only an extension of current laws that allow access to telco information and data. And like the telco laws, the appropriate court orders or warrants would be required prior to information being handed over.
The Australian Federal Police estimate that 65% of their serious and organised crime investigations involve some level of encryption. The amount of encrypted communication has grown in the past several years from 3% to over 55% of all traffic. When you’re talking terrorism, drug, and paedophile organisations, it is vital for investigating officers to be able to access this information. There is no change to legal principle, it’s a matter of the rule of law applying online as it does offline.
Some of the companies that will be affected have voiced concerns regarding building weaknesses into encryption technology. To do so would affect the security of the internet. Many companies already have protocols in place to assist investigations where they can. Facebook alone provided data to police and intelligence officers on 657 occasions in 2016.
My opinion? Apart from finding this interesting in an ‘I could use this in a story’ way, I think it’s long overdue. To be honest, I was surprised this isn’t already in place. The police are not asking the companies to break the law, they’re asking them for help. Most internet providers give assistance anyway, but this would compel them to comply if they are reluctant to do so—providing a warrant was in place. If we can stop a teenager being radicalised, a terror attack, or a paedophile, then that’s a good thing.
Don’t you think?
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It's about words and my life as a writer. There are also tips for those starting their writing journey, with a focus on self-publishing, and encouragement all round.