Aussies want people to decrypt their encryptions

Australia’s Attorney General department is jolly cross that people are encrypting their traffic so that it cannot be read by spooks.

It is drawing up new laws to force users and providers of encrypted internet communications services to decode any data intercepted by authorities. After all, it will save a lot of time and effort if the terrorists tell the spooks what is in their emails, rather than having to waste time decrypting it.

The proposal is buried in a submission by the department to a Senate inquiry on revision of the Telecommunications Interception Act.

The Attorney General admits that this will go down like a bucket of cold chunder and that the government might actually come the raw prawn and say now.

It says that the rise of encryption use by businesses makes it more difficult to guarantee that intercepted communications will be in an “intelligible” format.

“Sophisticated criminals and terrorists are exploiting encryption and related counter-interception techniques to frustrate law enforcement and security investigations, either by taking advantage of default-encrypted communications services or by adopting advanced encryption solutions,” the submission noted.

Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft already enable encryption by default for their respective web-based email services. BlackBerry’s messaging encryption has also previously been raised as a law enforcement issue.

Under the department’s cunning plan, “law enforcement, anti-corruption and national security agencies would apply to an independent issuing authority for a warrant authorising the agency to issue ‘intelligibility assistance notices’ to service providers and other persons”.

The department attempted to re-assure the government that this is done already however, forcing individual suspects to unlock encrypted messages would be a new power for authorities.