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Australian Authorities Push for Encryption Backdoors After Internet Censorship Attempt

Australia ramps up calls for “accountable encryption,” pushing tech giants toward compliance with controversial backdoor legislation.

In a relentless bid to give some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world a run for their money where internet censorship is concerned, Australia’s government continues to come up with one dubious initiative after another.

Recently, there was an attempt to censor content globally (related to two stabbing attacks in Australia), and shortly after, the country’s intelligence chief Mike Burgess, and Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw addressed the National Press Club, to launch yet another attack on encryption by urging compliance with encryption backdoors legislation.

Burgess chose to call this – “accountable encryption.”

It isn’t “accountable” right now because, while Australia has passed laws to essentially break encryption, those who are supposed to implement them, technology companies, are not cooperating.

“I am asking the tech companies to do more. I’m asking them to give effect to the existing powers and to uphold existing laws. Without their help in very limited and strictly controlled circumstances, encryption is unaccountable,” he said.

Burgess was careful to nestle his encryption backdoors plea among seemingly reasonable arguments, such as that encryption provides privacy and is “clearly a good thing” that “enables” transactions (he for some reason chose not to stress that it is in fact necessary for secure transactions).

But, the Australian spy chief went on, encryption also “creates safe spaces for violent extremists to operate, network and recruit.”

And it is their encrypted messages – and only theirs, governments around the world promise faithfully – that the authorities, as “good actors,” would like to be able to access communications at will.

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