back to article Oz opposition caves, offers encryption backdoor compromise

Mark Dreyfus, the Labor opposition's shadow Attorney General, has offered a compromise on Australia's controversial encryption backdooring bill that could see it passed, but with its operation restricted to counter-terrorism agencies. The request for urgency, Dreyfus said, was driven by the government's “short term” concerns …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge

    That's OK then

    Just a really really small deliberate compromise to encryption then.

    The bad guys will never find that!

    1. Halfmad

      Re: That's OK then

      I mean it's not like we're telling them there is a compromise eh?


    2. GnuTzu

      Re: That's OK then -- Not The Master Key

      "...the key to one room, not the 'master key of the hotel'"

      Um, who's going to manage the keys? Is this going to be some kind of key escrow? Do they not understand that anybody can generate a key independent of such nanny-state management?

      Clearly, these things are going to end up in the outlawing of various forms of encryption--along with any methods to hide it.

      And, they'll also end up having to outlaw cryptographic research that isn't government sanctioned. Imagine having to get a license to learn.

      1. Mark 65

        Re: That's OK then -- Not The Master Key

        Given that, in the main, most of these companies don't actually possess the keys and if it ever got out they'd facilitated keys leaking from an endpoint their business is finished - what difference do they expect this law will make? Are the makers of Signal going to release a cracked version? No, so what then?

  2. Nick Kew

    their best assistance in understanding the nature and the content (where we have a warrant) of that communication”,

    That at least sounds more like the FBI Iphone case than a backdoor.

    Perhaps the Reg could point us to the real smoking gun here?

    1. The Central Scrutinizer

      You've obviously never heard of scope creep. Make no mistake, this government (at least as long as it lasts, which should be about next May) is lurching further and further to the right.

      Mr Potato Head thinks we're all suspects and the recent horrible event in Melbourne is shamelessly being used by these bastards to ultimately break encryption.

      That's gonna be a shit load of fun for everyone!

      Australia, king of the Internet idiots.

      1. Denarius

        caving in

        @Scrutiniser. You are making the usual mistake. Oz governments of all stripes are becoming more intrusive and controlling. Right and left are just terms, used mostly by factions of 19th century totalitarian religions. From the non-privileged citizens view an oligarchy spouting Marx or Free Markets is the same thing with different labels. Both are re-implementations of absolute monarchies justified by Divine Right. This is why the Market boosting droids do not quote Adam Smith any more. Smith had good insights on how societies fail to work fairly if only economic issues are considered in regulating company behavior.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: caving in

          @Denarius Not quite accurate. The terms left wing and right wing come to us from the Parlement of Paris after the revolution of 1789. The different factions sat on different sides of the parliament.

          But yes, ideologues are the bane of rationality and sanity.

      2. Mark 65

        Mr Potato Head thinks we're all suspects

        Once a copper, always a copper. There's no amount of scrubbing that will clean that off.

  3. EnviableOne

    do we have to remind them again, they singed up to the UDHR that guarnetees privacy of communications?

    article 12

    1. Anonymous Coward

      > do we have to remind them again, they singed up to the UDHR that guarnetees privacy of communications?

      Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence...

      And their response is: we aren't interfering with your ability to send correspondence to anyone you like, anywhere in the world (as long as you send it unencrypted). We only want to read it, not interfere with it.

      [Warning, this comment is not to be taken seriously, but may accurately reflect the views of the Oz Government nonetheless]

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "We only want to read it, not interfere with it."

        But if privacy is the thing, then reading it is interference.

        [Warning, yes I expect you realise that, but this verbal moving of the goalposts may accurately reflect the intellectual bankruptcy of the Oz Government nonetheless. ... So we need to ready to jump on it as soon as they trot it out.]

        1. Rajesh Kanungo

          In order to read it, they have to store it somewhere, transmit it, search through it, catalog it, etc. Why hack the communication when I can just hang around and steal the processed and digested information.

        2. Rajesh Kanungo

          In order to read it, they have to store it somewhere, transmit it, search through it, catalog it, etc. Why hack the communication when the Eve can just hang around and steal the processed and digested information.

  4. FozzyBear

    I am not looking forward to next years election, the candidate list is reading like the who's who of Morons Inc.

    With that in mind does anyone have a particularly dumb pet, nasty looking garden slug, ugly looking mould or fungus growth they'd care to put forward as a competing party leader.

  5. Rajesh Kanungo

    Would this be illegal?

    Alice and Bob, Aussie and British citizens respectively, each create Elliptical curve key pairs.

    Alice and Bob call each other and exchange their public keys.

    They then send messages to each other, using ECIES.

    Suppose they do rapid ephemeral key exchanges. Would the govt like to keep track of the ephemeral keys too? How many?

    Can I generate an ephemeral key every 100 ms or so.

    Will the government like to keep track of all the keys?

    Programs like Signal: can Dick ban them? How?

    Alice’s homeland dictator, Dick, may get overwhelmed.

    1. fluffybunnyuk

      Re: Would this be illegal?

      Its not a problem since one of the fundamental difficulties with this is generating as close to truely random numbers as possible. If your RNG is compromised or not great to start with (i've seen at least 50 that arnt) then your going to alot of effort for no good reason.

      1. Rajesh Kanungo

        Re: Would this be illegal?

        Good point. Compromising the RNG would be bad for the health of ALL crypto. That may be what they may be alluding to. Or push for. They might actually propose Dual_EC_DRBG. Hard for a normal human to test for randomness. I am sure that quantum computing will be put to "good use" when it becomes available. (sarcasm).

  6. TsVk!

    It's all about busting druggies.

    It's the same as the metadata retention laws they added a couple of years back. The aim is almost purely to stop people using the internet to buy and sell drugs.

    That's not speculation, there are solid figures that show that is what has primarily been done with metadata. They got a few tax evaders and stuff too, but no terrorists to speak of, which was what the new laws claimed to be all about.

    But those gosh darn druggies just won't stop hey, they started using VPN's and USB bootable OS's and now the police are well... stuck.

  7. Prophet Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

    Is the government also planning to make it mandatory for tech. companies to provide the decryption keys to unscramble ransomware?

  8. ShortLegs

    Can you not see the GroupThink:

    1. We [governments of most nations] are still alarmed by the ease of which a small group organised the petrol protests of 2001 in the UK, with nothing more than SMS messages

    2. The Internet gives dissenters much greater ability to protest

    3. Hmm, that Internet thing, could be great for surveillance of our own people. And if it wasn't for those darned encryption thingies...

    4. Hey, Mr Tech Company, give us access to everyone's messages. There's shed loads of money for various Govt projects about here in exchange for data, and of course, my non-exec Directorship

    5. The public? "Think of the children! Terrorists! Think of the children! Terrorists!"

    1. Rajesh Kanungo

      #5 is completely true; have worked with many Aussies who go into pre-frontal cortex deficient mode when I tell them that govt spying is bad or that the stuff they are proposing will nor work. By using the two trigger words, the govt captures their brains. If you tell them that it is easy to bypass those controls, their usual comeback is, "So you support the terrorists and pedophiles". SMH.

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