back to article Researchers crack Oz Govt medical data in 'easy' attack with PCs

Australian researchers have laid waste to the Federal Government's plan to criminalise the decryption of anonymised state data sets, just a day after it was announced, by 'easily' cracking government-held medical data. Federal attorney-general George Brandis yesterday announced that it would accept recommendations from the …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge


    Is Australia starting to get an American complex? Does it think that this law will stop people in other countries de-anonymizing the data?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overseas

      Hell, I always thought that the DMCA was merely step 0.1 to outlawing security research in the US. Wassenaar arrangement simply confirms that and I'll belive that's dead when they put a stake through its heart. Such research is an economic and political threat (to power) and obviously must be tightly controlled, in their view.

    2. A_Melbourne

      Re: Overseas

      "Is Australia starting to get an American complex?"

      Well, they hurried to claim responsibility for killing 80 Syrian soldiers and to help ISIS - in order to share the blame with the Americans. I guess you must be correct.

  2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Proper, effective security, anonymisation and encryption is hard and expensive .

    Making it a criminal offense to point out how shit a government's data protection measures are, is cheap and easy.

    This seems all about doing a crap job, saving a few bucks, and preventing embarrassment by force.

    It will only impact legitimate research and lead to ever-weakening security. It will have zero impact on criminal activities. Criminals don't give two shits about breaking laws, because duh... criminals.

  3. m0rt

    There is a basic mis-understanding of law as it applies to society in terms of behaviour, which is ironically applied by both politicians and certain newspapers, and subsequently inherited by some of the population.

    There is behvioural change, which by its very nature still requires the person whose behaviour you trying to change to conform to the society they are currently in. You you introduce a law that states 'You must wear a seatbelt' then over time, and penalties, you end up cultivating this change in behaviour.

    This does NOT stop the ability to not wear a seatbelt when driving.

    So, as it applies to criminal behaviour, making things 'against the law' does not stop people who don't comform to some, or all, of your societarial rules and regulations.

    So by banning research into online security in a specific country has effectively ruled out legal research. So those that conform to the laws you want, can't perform services that by their very nature you WANT people who conform to your laws to do.

    So this is basically having a car, and leaving it unlocked, with the key in. If I did that, and the car was stolen, the local plod would look at me in disbelief and ultimately blame me, not the actual thieving idiot who took it.

    So don't be surprised, politicians, if your management of the country is called into question when you make idiotic rules so you can make your official manifesto look good and create twitter fodder.

    'Kin Idiots.

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      "So this is basically having a car, and leaving it unlocked, with the key in.'

      In Australia (NSW) you don't even need to leave the key in! Leaving a car unlocked and unattended is already a crime in NSW and Victoria. There have been reports of police ticketing commuters at some station car parks because they don't want their windows broken so leave the car unlocked.

      The mandarins just don't get it that those who are intent on doing naughty things will continue to do so irrespective of the presence of a law.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Shoot the messenger

    Then you never hear bad news.

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Shoot the messenger

      Only if you shoot him before he speaks. Maybe they do want to gaol someone who starts to think about investigating the anonymising methods, that will guarantee there will be no unwanted revelations.

  5. quartzie

    Homework assignment

    Did they just tell curious and smart people what NOT to do?

    That should work...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up next

    Senator Brandis will try to get a law passed making it illegal to break the law, thereby eliminating all crime in one fell swoop. Because obviously passing a law making something illegal immediately stops all and any occurrences of said activity. The man's a genius...

  7. A Dawson

    My brain hurts

    I'm sure every time Brandis opens his mouth on technology or privacy he destroys more of my brain cells than a swift smack in the head with a hammer would do, I think its a conspiracy to beat us into some form of mental submission by idiocy or maybe his advisors are as stupid as I think they are, is Brandis someones sockpuppet pretending to be a real person?

    1. Diogenes

      Re: My brain hurts

      I'm sure every time Brandis opens his mouth on technology or privacy he destroys more of my brain cells than a swift smack in the head with a hammer would do


  8. Crambo

    Correction of this article

    The is a misrepresentation evident in the originally published article and the consequential commentary on the proposed amendment to the Australian Privacy Act. In fact the need for robust and independent assessment of the strength and effectiveness of the encryptions used has been anticipated and is supported by an exemption proposed in this amendment to the Privacy Act.

    This is to support 3rd Parties (eg Security Specialists and Researchers) when interogating and testing the potential inadequacies or vulnerabilities of the encrytion and de-identification algorithms used in preparing and posting 'Open Data'.

  9. Kratoklastes

    Brandis' control-freakery knows no bounds: but don't worry, coz he's finished

    I view the amendment that Brandis is proposing as the typical response of a second-rate government lawyer when confronted with evidence of government incompetence: make it illegal to expose government exposing incompetence. Job done, amirite?

    This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Brandis 'QC' - a third-rate Brisbane barrister whose conniving to get 'silk' says more about him than pretty much anything else he has done.

    And like all halfwits, Brandis thought that he could extend his control-freakery by fiat, enabling him to keep eyes on all requests for advice from the Soli-General: he took on someone several orders of magnitude smarter than him, and several more orders of magnitude more respected than he is... and he will pay for it with his political life. (Not for nothin', but Gleeson is also better-liked in the legal fraternity than Brandis, but that's a very low bar since Brandis is about as likable as haemorrhagic fever).

    My point being: when the ALA calls for your scalp, you're finished as a participant in the legal community, irrespective of what political office you hold. That means that Malcolm "Parachuted Preselection" Turnbull is biding his time before sacking Brandis - literally everyone (including Brandis) knows he's toast.

    And given that Brandis is a Dead AG Walking, nobody will support his proposed amendments in committee, so they won't get through.

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