Government’s encryption backdoor plan flawed

Legislating against cryptography will drive encryption underground, says Tim Gallagher

The chief executive of a Swiss digital encryption app provider has lambasted the Australian government’s proposed new laws that will compel tech companies to help local security forces access encrypted messages.

The proposed laws are expected to be put to Parliament by the end of this year, and are expected to resemble the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This legislation obligates messaging platform operators such as Facebook and Google to cooperate with investigators looking to access encrypted messages.

SafeSwiss CEO Tim Gallagher said on Monday that the nature of his company’s free messaging service for Android, iOS and Windows devices places it “beyond the legal jurisdiction of the Australian government."

Gallagher warned users who are concerned about their privacy that serious design flaws in products such as WhatsApp, Telegram Messenger and WICKR potentially make them vulnerable to government-mandated backdoors.

“Banning or legislating encryption apps is not the answer, this is a true paradox of security against privacy,” Gallagher said.

“Legislating against cryptography will drive encryption underground. It will open the doors to malicious attacks from adversaries everywhere.”

Gallagher noted that encryption also applies to banking, purchasing goods online and in keyless ignition systems.

“A good preview on how backdoors operate is to look at the US transport security administration (TSA) requirement that all baggage passing or travelling within the USA must be equipped with travel sentry locks that are designed to allow anyone with a readily available master key access.

“As a result, a CNN investigation found thousands of incidents of theft,” he said.

Gallagher added that to consider governments to be a trusted third-party “is extremely misguided.”

“Governments would be better placed to put resources into the source of the problem – the continued brainwashing of predominantly youth under the guise of medieval religion.

“We are most certainly not anti-government or anti-police. We are pro privacy, and we firmly believe that both privacy and freedom of speech are two basic fundamental human rights.”

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