Apple to Australia: “This is no time to weaken encryption”

EnlargeMichael Dodge/Getty ImagesApple has filed its formal opposition to a new bill currently being proposed by the Australian government that critics say would weaken encryption.

If it passes, the “Assistance and Access Bill 2018” would create a new type of warrant that would allow what governments often call “lawful access” to thwart encryption, something that the former Australian attorney general proposed last year. The California company said in a filing provided to reporters on Friday that the proposal was flawed. “This is no time to weaken encryption,” the company wrote. “There is profound risk of making criminals’ jobs easier, not harder.

Increasingly stronger–not weaker–encryption is the best way to protect against these threats.” Apple took direct aim at what American authorities have called the “going dark” problem–the notion that strong encryption makes it far too difficult for law enforcement to access hardened devices.

The Department of Justice and the FBI have pushed for something similar for decades to no avail–no specific legislation has been put forward in the United States since the failed “Clipper Chip” proposal during the Clinton administration. However, high-ranking DOJ and FBI officials during both the Obama and Trump administrations have continued to lambast this issue.

“Some suggest that exceptions can be made, and access to encrypted data could be created just for only those sworn to uphold the public good,” Apple continued. “That is a false premise.

Encryption is simply math. Any process that weakens the mathematical models that protect user data for anyone will by extension weaken the protections for everyone. It would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat.”

Dozens of other parties filed other briefs, offering up their comments about this proposed legislation.

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner expressed similar concerns, as did Riana Pfefferkorn, a Stanford legal fellow, who called the bill “dangerous and misguided.”

Meanwhile, the Police Federation of Australia offered its support of the bill.

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