Australia is demanding that their law enforcement authorities be given the ability to crack the encryption of all phones, including the iPhone, in order to prevent crimes or terror incidents. A law requiring this of all tech companies that sell phones in Australia passed in December 2018.
While the measure was conceived with the best of intentions, the backlash could be horrific. Not only could the new law devastate the Australian tech industry, it could make iPhones and all other smartphones all over the world more vulnerable to attack
Nellie Bowles filed this report in the New York Times:
The law, the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, applies only to tech products used or sold in Australia. But its impact could be global: If Apple were to build a so-called back door for iPhones sold in Australia, the authorities in other countries, including the United States, could force the company to use that same tool to assist their investigations.
The Australian law went into effect last month. It is one of the most assertive efforts by lawmakers to rein in tech companies, which have argued for decades that unbreakable encryption is an imperative part of protecting the private communications of their customers.
In recent years, law enforcement officials have complained that tough encryption has made it impossible for them to gain access to the online discussions of crime suspects, particularly in time-sensitive terror investigations.
Australia does not have a strong tech industry, but it is growing, with investors and start-ups and a few established companies. And in the tightknit tech community that does exist, the new law has been a gut punch. “We never thought it would pass,” said Alan Jones, chief executive of M8 Ventures, a tech investment firm in Sydney. “We all just figured that Australia’s political leaders would consider the expert advice that told them this was nuts.”