Apple slams Australian encryption laws in submission to ParliamentOctober 14, 2018 Off By administrator
APPLE has been uncharacteristically blunt in its scathing criticism of one of the federal government’s key policies, saying the Coalition’s attempt to weaken digital encryption should be “alarming to all Australians.”
In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, the consumer tech giant called the draft legislation “dangerously ambiguous” and said it risked helping, not hindering, criminal activity.
The parliamentary inquiry is taking submissions regarding the Telecommunication and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, which seeks to grant authorities sweeping powers to compel tech companies like Facebook, Apple and Google as well as telecommunications companies to provide access to data on their platform.
The would-be laws target providers of communication services and device makers and will include the power for police to force companies to disclose encrypted information on devices such as phones, computers and social media platforms.
The government says 95 per cent of the dangerous actors being targeted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) use encrypted messaging, hindering intelligence agencies’ ability to investigate.
But the plan has been roundly criticised by cyber security experts and Apple is just the latest to lay the boot into the government’s draft legislation.
“This is no time to weaken encryption,” the company wrote. “There is profound risk of making criminals’ jobs easier, not harder. Increasingly stronger — not weaker — encryption is the best way to protect against these threats.”
It painted a picture of how weakening encryption could allow cyber criminals to more easily burrow into critical parts of digital infrastructure.
“The devices you carry not only contain personal emails, health information and photos but are also conduits to corporations, infrastructure and other critical services. Vital infrastructure — like power grids and transportation hubs — become more vulnerable when individual devices get hacked.”
Apple said it has a “long history” of co-operating with the Australian government on critical issues but the company has been steadfast in its protection of encryption and consumer privacy in the past.
“Some suggest that exceptions can be made, and access to encrypted data could be created just for only those sworn to uphold the public good,” Apple continued in its submission.
“That is a false premise. Encryption is simply math. Any process that weakens the mathematical models that protect user data for anyone will by extension weaken the protections for everyone. It would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat.”
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