Report: Backdoor’s Already Being Requested By Australian Authorities

After passing the lower house, it seems that authorities are wasting no time in demanding backdoor’s be put in place.

Yesterday, we reported on how FastMail and Mozilla are demanding changes to Australia’s anti-encryption laws. Known as the Assistance and Access Act, the bill allows law enforcement to secretly demand backdoor access to any encrypted service without court oversight.

Some may think that the provisions are still being hashed out and that such requests won’t be handed out until the dust more or less settles. Unfortunately for those who don’t like the legislation, it seems that this is actually not the case.

According to a report out of Packt suggests that not only are provisions already being enforced, but backdoor access requests are already being handed out. From the report:

In spite of this opposition, the legislation is not only active but the intelligence agencies actively using its provisions and several notices too have been issued under this new law.

With the AA act, the legislation’s aim is to allow intelligence agencies and some law enforcement to pry open encrypted messages in particular cases, especially where it concerned national security. The government has consistently argued the legislation makes Australians safer.

“The legislation is being actively used by law enforcement and security agencies in a number of investigations to keep Australia safe”, a government spokesperson reported. “The legislation in no way compromises the security of any Australians’ digital communications”, he added.

For companies who are opposed to the legislation, this development is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it shows that supporters of the legislation are wrong when they say that backdoor encryption orders won’t really happen. On the other hand, it also confirms the worst fears for their customers who depend on data security. That means that people will likely start dropping their support and start looking for alternatives for their encryption needs.

In any event, if one wants to look for secure communications, chances are, a valid question is whether any of that data flows through Australia. It could be a deciding factor for consumers who don’t live in Australia.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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