Monday, 10 May 2021
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Encryption: Has the government stuck to its ‘no backdoors’ pledge?

The government this morning unveiled an exposure draft of its much-anticipated legislative response to the increased use of encrypted communications services.

The bill “will allow law enforcement and interception agencies to access specific communications without compromising the security of a network,” said law enforcement and cyber security minister Angus Taylor.

The measures in the bill “expressly prevent the weakening of encryption or the introduction of so-called backdoors,” the minister said.

Since the government in July last year first committed to legislation to tackle law enforcement agency access to encrypted communications services, it has repeatedly claimed that any new law would not compel a communications provider to create ‘backdoors’.

The draft bill, unveiled this morning, outlines three types of assistance that may be sought by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The first is essentially a request for voluntary cooperation on a range of technical measures (which could, for example, include handing over certain types of information or be as simple as an explanation of how a particular service works or the format of certain data).

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