back to article Oz government says UK's backdoor will be its not-a-backdoor model

The issue of lawful access to encrypted communications featured in Australia's news over the long weekend, but we're none the wiser to what our government has in mind beyond it being based on the UK Investigatory Powers Act. Both prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and attorney-general George Brandis took to the media to reiterate …

  1. Oh Homer

    Backdoor model?

    Sounds kinky.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My 2 cents


  3. dan1980

    Yes folks - this is what it apparently looks like to be brave and strong in the face of terrorism; to tell those who wish us ill that we won't change for them and that they can't beat us.

    Thanks Malcolm and George - it's nice to know that you are out there protecting our freedoms and showing the world just how unafraid we are.

  4. GrumpyKiwi

    And to start with

    So the first bad move is to emulate the UK at anything - and especially this.

  5. Tim99 Silver badge
    Big Brother


    Haven't these people heard of the false positive paradox? Of course they haven't, they are just politicians. Based on previous performance, anything that Brandis likes is probably taking several steps to far. The ability to filter through everybody's communications after an event might, just, help follow up investigations but will make initial prevention less likely. It seems that the perpetrators of the recent incidents were known/reported to the police/security forces, so blanket surveillance of all communication would not have done much to identify them.

    By the way, this is not really about terrorism, it is the well established paranoia that governments have with their populations. Perhaps they are finally following advice on why this is necessary when most of their populations become un(der)employed. What if all the major platforms introduce end-to-end encryption with a new key for each item? Does that mean that all "relevant" devices will have to be individually compromised?

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    Mal and Geo

    Two men well out of their depths.

    Drowning, no waving!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. dan1980

      Re: Mal and Geo


      I don't think they're "out of their depths".

      I think they, like many politicians and nearly all senior law enforcement the world over, are strongly inclined towards state surveillance and general monitoring of the population.

      The 'problem' for those folks in Australia is that we have not had any big attacks - indeed barely any attacks at all. Thus, there is no catalyst that can be leveraged; no public outrage or fear to exploit.

      What they are doing in the absence of a direct catalyst is laying the ground work by trying to piggy-back off that of other countries - like the UK.

      That won't necessarily get such measures over the edge right away but it primes the pump so that as soon as there is a hint of anything similar here, they come out swinging and urging.

      The arguments will focus on the most extreme edge cases of violence and predation but the measures implemented will be broad in scope and unrestricted in application.

      These powers will be used - regardless of whether the original catalyst and cause exists or not - and, once granted, the police and governments will resist any and all attempts to have powers they now view as their right curtailed.

      So, business as usual then.

      1. Spleenmeister

        Re: Mal and Geo

        "The 'problem' for those folks in Australia is that we have not had any big attacks - indeed barely any attacks at all. Thus, there is no catalyst that can be leveraged; no public outrage or fear to exploit."

        Oh I wouldn't worry about that. That'll be fixed if there's any real opposition to these "laws". A ready-made solution exists for a reaction that has no problem to react to. Cue some scariness to focus the minds

  7. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Not a backdoor...

    ...since it will just be a hole without a door that can be closed.

  8. 0laf

    Stop the trade in idiots

    Unfortunately the international supply of idiots doesn't appear to be diminishing.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Stop the trade in idiots

      Ours appear to be a special breed. While the British gene is strong there is a local mutation that puts ours in a class of their own.

      1. staggers

        Re: Stop the trade in idiots

        Oh, I dunno. As a Brit, I'm ashamed to say that I think we still have the edge, sadly. Please, can anyone who lives in a 5 Eyes country give us all an example of a politician who knows about IT, is not a swivel - eyed lunatic, who values democracy, and understands that what they're doing is wrong on a million levels.

        I'm old. But I truly see a Ceaucescu eventually for these leaders.

        At no time, ever, in the history of the 5 Eyes nations was there a clause in their constitution that stated that the people are the servants of the government. Of course, we don't even have a written constitution, not that it seems to make any difference.

        Government quangos talk about 'loss of income' on their balance sheets. It isn't income, it's money from the public that those fuckers are lucky enough to have in the first place.

        We have truly become the servants of our respective governments, and not the other way around.

        Glad I won't be around to see what happens. And remember about Jeremy Corbyn, he has been a genuine Trotskyist all his life. If you thought the last Labour government left the country skint (which it did, thanks to an obviously mentally ill Chancellor / Prime Minister) Corbyn would leave us broke, but since we'd be a smoking hole in the ground, it wouldn't much matter.

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am actually beginning to think that all these talks of backdoors is either just blowing smoke to make believe that they can monitor communications in realtime when they know they have been shafted. Or to cover up the fact that they have already cracked the encryption but don't want people to know.

    With the Signal Protocol software -that is used by Whatsapp and other end-to-end encrypted chat software- open source any app developer can create their own chat apps and just host the servers outside the US, UK or Australia to get around it.

    1. 0laf

      Electric string

      Politicians mostly just think of this stuff as electric magic. If they can think it a geek can do it so get on with it.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Electric string



        It's always possible (some would say likely) that the politicians are clueless but I suspect there are many the world over who at least accept that securely crackable encryption is just not possible yet still push for this type of legislation.

        When they say they are not asking for a 'backdoor', that makes me believe they do accept the impossibility of having such a thing and keeping encryption secure.

        What they are doing instead is calling for the end result while wishing to claim ignorance or disinterest in how that end is achieved. I am sure that most know that what they are asking for is only possible by implementing 'back doors' - they are just trying to avoid the blame for that by making it the 'tech community's' problem.

        They will say that they 'never insisted on or even asked for a backdoor' and that building them was entirely the choice and decision of the tech companies so they, and not the government, are to blame for their existence. The government, after all, only wanted access to communication as directed by a legal warrant - and that's totally reasonable, right?

        It's like directing truck drivers to drive across the country in an unfeasible time-frame and then claiming that they never told the drivers to speed or or take dangerous stimulants to stay awake.

        They are trying to insist on a result that can only be accomplished by taking certain actions while wishing to absolve themselves of responsibility for the consequences of those actions.

  10. julian.smith

    George (metadata) Brandis

    Wouldn't know his arse from a hole in the ground.

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