Encryption - Point-to-Point - Clearly Australians Don't Understand!
1. Encryption. Even if a government was to get access to the plain text of the encrypted messages created by some public service or another, all they would find is that the bad guys had implemented their own cipher before sending. (See below for a book cipher example.)
2. Point-to-Point. Most of the uninformed debate seems to ASSUME that bad guys use point-to-point communications (examples would be email, phone calls) where the end points are identifiable. But if a message is published on a web page (e.g. The Register, see below), then the sender will be hard to identify, and the recipient even harder.
3. Time to Read. Both items above have a useful asymmetry for the bad guys, who get:
-- real-time communication
-- anonymity (at least for a while)
....while the so-called good guys get:
-- a delay (perhaps quite a long delay) in reading the message
-- a delay (perhaps quite a long delay) in identifying the parties communicating
4. Book Ciphers. I hear lots of chatter about "forcing the bad guy" to hand over the encryption key or keys. This is another assumption that something like PGP is being used. But (for example) book ciphers don't have a "key". Even worse, if the bad guys have an agreed set of one time pads ahead of time, there is NO KEY. In both cases, the asymmetry mentioned above means that by the time you have a bad guy in custody to extract information about the cipher regime, it's almost certainly way too late.
5. Book Cipher example...feel free to publish the plain text here.