Australia is gearing up to release new laws that will force Australian telecommunications companies and global tech companies to comply with law enforcement agencies, when such agencies ask for access to encrypted data on the smartphones of suspected criminals (via ABC News Australia). The laws are the latest in an ongoing global data battle that hit a fever pitch in the United States in early 2016 when the FBI asked Apple for a backdoor into the smartphone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Specifics in regards to the Australian laws have not yet been shared, but they are said to affect companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google, which would face "significant fines" if they choose not to comply with encrypted data requests. Australian telecommunications companies affected under the law include Telstra and Optus.

iphonexlockscreen 1
Cyber security minister of Australia Angus Taylor was asked if the laws would allow surveillance codes to be implanted into smartphones and "avoided directly answering," stating a lack of preparation to get into technical details.

Notably, one detail Taylor did confirm is that the government would not ask companies to install a backdoor into their apps and equipment, nor would they be asked to "provide law enforcement agencies with an encryption key." Because of this, it's unclear exactly how the Australian government's demands would need to be met by companies.

"There's been ideas around for decades that you should create some kind of key that law enforcement can get access to, to access any data at any time — that's not what we're proposing here," Mr Taylor said.

"But at the same time we must ensure that law enforcement doesn't lose access to the data and the information they need to pre-empt terror attacks and crimes, and to hold criminals and terrorists to account."

Taylor explained that the new proposals are an update to antiquated laws in Australia: "Those laws should be extended to a situation where messages are being sent through an app, or via any other means, in ways that the current laws hadn't anticipated," he said. "It's not appropriate to have a world where we can do this for analogue data, analogue communication, but we can't do it in the digital world."

In the United States, last month an anti-surveillance coalition, including Apple, condemned recent proposals for backdoor access into electronic devices. The coalition previously published a core principle pledging to ensure device security through strong encryption and calling on governments to avoid taking actions that would require companies to "create any security vulnerabilities in their products and services."

The news came as law enforcement officials were said to be revisiting proposals that would require tech companies to build backdoor access into devices for better access to data in criminal investigations. Apple continued enhancing user security in the recent iOS 12 beta, where a new setting was discovered that prevents USB accessories from connecting to the iPhone when it's been more than an hour since the device was unlocked.

Law enforcement officials use USB access to iOS devices to connect accessories like the GrayKey box, a tool that plugs into the Lightning port of an iPhone and uses the data connection in an attempt to brute force a passcode. With the new setting, an iPhone's Lightning port data connection will not work with the GrayKey box if it's been more than an hour since a passcode was entered, rendering it effectively useless unless used immediately after an iPhone is obtained from a suspect.

In Australia, draft legislation of the new laws will be presented "in weeks" so more details about the plans should emerge soon. Ahead of the launch, Taylor said that the government is "very sympathetic to the concerns that the tech service providers have had" in regards to forced compliance with data gathering on electronic devices.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

itsmilo Avatar
53 months ago
I love when politicians that have no clue how tech works propose these kind of laws.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
leman Avatar
53 months ago
What I am curious about: what would happen if the tech company simply can’t provide the information, since it does t have it? For instance, if messaging uses end-to-end encryption? Would designing and implementing such mechanisms become illegal under laws like these?

And btw, comparison with the old-school communication is silly. There is nothing preventing me from using an old-fashioned code in a paper letter. And I am not aware of any international law that would force me to reveal the code to the police. Or is the idea to make sending coded letters illegal?
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BWhaler Avatar
53 months ago
Australia, you used to be so cool. Now look at you.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Schranke Avatar
53 months ago
I would love to see some major companies reacting by pulling out of the Australian market if such a law is passed.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WarHeadz Avatar
53 months ago
Australia, you used to be so cool. Now look at you.
Their accents are still sexy though.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jim Lahey Avatar
53 months ago
When this all comes to fruition around the globe, and it will, I will sit back and laugh as government clowns and legislators the world over get hacked to ****.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

macbook air m2

Exclusive: Apple Plans to Launch MacBook Air With M2 Chip on July 15

Wednesday June 29, 2022 5:23 pm PDT by
The redesigned MacBook Air with the all-new M2 Apple silicon chip will be available for customers starting Friday, July 15, MacRumors has learned from a retail source. The new MacBook Air was announced and previewed during WWDC earlier this month, with Apple stating availability will begin in July. The MacBook Air features a redesigned body that is thinner and lighter than the previous...
original iphone 2007

15 Years Ago Today, the iPhone Went On Sale

Wednesday June 29, 2022 4:43 am PDT by
Fifteen years ago to this day, the iPhone, the revolutionary device presented to the world by the late Steve Jobs, officially went on sale. The first iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007, and went on sale on June 29, 2007. "An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator... these are not three separate devices," Jobs famously said. "Today, Apple is going to reinvent the...
maxresdefault

Video Comparison: M2 MacBook Pro vs. M1 MacBook Pro

Tuesday June 28, 2022 2:45 pm PDT by
Apple last week launched an updated version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and it is the first Mac that is equipped with an updated M2 chip. As it's using a brand new chip, we thought we'd pick up the M2 MacBook Pro and compare it to the prior-generation M1 MacBook Pro to see just what's new. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. For the video comparison, we're using the...
iPhone vs Galaxy Larger

Apple Executive Says Samsung Copied the iPhone and Simply 'Put a Bigger Screen Around It'

Tuesday June 28, 2022 8:59 am PDT by
The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern today shared a new documentary about the evolution of the iPhone ahead of the 15th anniversary of the device launching on June 29, 2007. The documentary includes an interview with Apple's marketing chief Greg Joswiak, iPhone co-creator Tony Fadell, and a family of iPhone users. One segment of the interview reflects on Android smartphones gaining larger...
iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro vs. 14 Pro: New Features to Expect if You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday June 27, 2022 11:22 am PDT by
With many customers choosing to upgrade their iPhone every two or three years nowadays, there are lots of iPhone 11 Pro users who might be interested in upgrading to the iPhone 14 Pro later this year. Those people are in for a treat, as three years of iPhone generations equals a long list of new features and changes to look forward to. Below, we've put together a list of new features and...
Mac Studio IO

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished Mac Studio Models

Thursday June 30, 2022 7:42 pm PDT by
Apple today began selling refurbished Mac Studio models for the first time in the United States, Canada, and select European countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In the United States, two refurbished Mac Studio configurations are currently available, including one with the M1 Max chip (10-core CPU and 24-core GPU) for...
rootbug

Major macOS High Sierra Bug Allows Full Admin Access Without Password - How to Fix [Updated]

Tuesday November 28, 2017 12:33 pm PST by
There appears to be a serious bug in macOS High Sierra that enables the root superuser on a Mac with a blank password and no security check. The bug, discovered by developer Lemi Ergin, lets anyone log into an admin account using the username "root" with no password. This works when attempting to access an administrator's account on an unlocked Mac, and it also provides access at the login...