back to article Wow, what a lovely early Christmas present for Australians: A crypto-busting super-snoop law passes just in time

Congratulations, Australia: somehow after chaotic scenes in parliament, the government last night managed to secure after-the-bell passage of its encryption-busting eavesdropping legislation. The super-spying law, which will force websites and communications services Down Under to build in secret wiretapping capabilities for …

  1. ma1010 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    In other news...

    Looking to next year's session, Australian PMs moot new laws to repeal the law of gravity and make both pi and e equal to 3.0.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: In other news...

      and make both pi and e equal to 3.0.

      Well that would save a lot of time.

      1. stiine Bronze badge
        Devil

        Re: In other news...

        It would make math easier, too.*

        * - Unless you need to navigate

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: In other news...

          Unless you need to navigate

          Or build things.

    2. Ganesha
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: In other news...

      The last incumbent to the current incompetent PM had a modicum of tek-nouse and used encryption on his personal device but assured the unwashed, using his trademark smarmy smirk, "the laws of mathematics do not override the laws of Australia".

      At the time he was referring to climate science but applied the same insouciance to economics which might explain why we are well informed & governed.

    3. GnuTzu Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: In other news...

      Yes, and the Earth is clearly flat.

      I fear this disease will spread, as it is clearly contagious.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: In other news...

        "the Earth is clearly flat."

        It cannot be. If it were, by this time cats would have pushed everything over the edge.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: In other news...

          There is a school of thought that says cats have already pushed everything over the edge, we just haven't noticed. There is a subset of this school that suggests either the cats can push, or we can notice, but not both.

        2. Someone Else Silver badge
          Pint

          @Jeffery Norken -- Re: In other news...

          "the Earth is clearly flat."

          It cannot be. If it were, by this time cats would have pushed everything over the edge.

          Post. Of. The. Week. For you, sir ----->

    4. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: In other news...

      ... make both pi and e equal to 3.0.

      e + 1 = 0

      Oh dear, this is going to get messy.

    5. entfe001
      Paris Hilton

      Re: In other news...

      Australian PMs moot new laws to repeal the law of gravity and make both pi and e equal to 3.0.

      They are 121 years late.

    6. NoneSuch
      FAIL

      Just watch...

      The first radical organizations to have their backdoors activated for monitoring will be the newspapers and online media.

      ...and I'm not f***ing joking.

      1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

        Re: Just watch...

        Anybody in Australia want my encryption software? It works ON TOP OF and OUTSIDE of Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook and any other major email instant messaging system that uses a browser or JAVA. With Lattice, One-time-pad and Invariate quantum computing resistant encryption algorithms built-in, and IN ADDITION we have CAAST-256 x 3 = 768 bits. Completely open source under GNU3 Open Source licence and compiled for multiple platforms.

        AND FULLY PEER-to-PEER encrypted communications if you need it!

        NO SUPPORT LIBRARIES ARE NEEDED - It's FULLY SELF-ENCLOSED CODE

        with all functions and functionality completely self-written!

        Very easy-to-read code for easy modification, VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION!

        They ain't getting ANYTHING!

        I'll put it up this next week in various places!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > I'll put it up this next week in various places!

          You'll be announcing it here?

    7. Someone Else Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: In other news...

      "...but in Latin, "Indiana" starts with 'I'..."

      Ob. Indiana Jones paraphrase...Ooooh...see what I did there?

  2. vir

    "Ship! Come back!"

    If it's been said once here, it's been said a thousand times: mathematics, third-party key security, etc. Now we get to see how this "technologically literate" discussion goes, or if this is just a rubber stamp on something that's already been decided.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: "Ship! Come back!"

      Well, nothing in factual reality has changed since https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1984 so like all anti-crypto legislation, this will make the bad guys more cunning and the only victims will be the innocent or very incompetent bad guys.

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: "Ship! Come back!"

      There is all the usual bluster in the legislation about forcing code changes etc and that has been taken to be the backdooring of encryption. However, I think we need to look back to the GCHQ story earlier to see that the likely forced code change will be to allow 5-eyes accounts to silently be part of a group conversation i.e. A contacts B and WhatsApp/Apple/whomever silently adds GCHQ into the chat as if the end-user requested it. That is my guess at what will happen. The unfortunate part is that we are led to believe this will be on a case by case basis whereas I'm expecting it to be "in all cases" because that's just easier.

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: "Ship! Come back!"

        @Mark, the signal protocol used by WhatsApp requires each participant to push their group key to the new user. Whilst Signal/WhatsApp can BCC all comms to 5eyes, they are not in possession of the encryption keys used by the group conversation. If they tried to push an invite out to 5eyes, then each device could notice that the administrator has pushed an invitation to a new member.

        Without weakening the security by adding a vulnerability to permit the servers to manage the session key, they cannot comply. They must either weaken security for all or refuse to comply.

        Thanks very much Labor for supporting the laws of fairy math. I had held hope that you had understood what the experts were all, without exception, telling you. History will judge you poorly for supporting such a dangerous law.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: "Ship! Come back!"

          "If they tried to push an invite out to 5eyes, then each device could notice that the administrator has pushed an invitation to a new member."

          Unless they update the app to silently ignore when certain keys are added to the conversation. When they control the client as well as everything in between, they can add eavesdropping in a way that would be invisible to the end user.

          Of course, once they have the capability to do that, you have to wonder what processes are in place to prevent (eg) someone bribing a Whatsapp staffer to give them access to a private conversation.

          1. Adam 1 Silver badge

            Re: "Ship! Come back!"

            They can update the app, but egress traffic from each participant cannot be avoided without fundamentally changing the protocol.

            And I'm not sure what you mean by ignore the keys. These are public keys of each participant for the new participant that allow them to decrypt the messages you send and allow you to decrypt messages that they are trying to send you. Ignore them, and they cannot understand you or vice versa.

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: "Ship! Come back!"

              "They can update the app, but egress traffic from each participant cannot be avoided without fundamentally changing the protocol."

              AFAIK if you were traffic sniffing your phone, all you'd see is encrypted packets going to/from Whatsapp's servers, so there'd be no way to tell there.

              As for "ignoring the keys", I mean that currently if someone is added to a group chat, you would normally get a notification along the lines of "J BLoggs has been added to this chat". They could add a client side update such that when GCHQ is added to a group chat, it did not notify the user.

              This wouldn't be possible with an open protocol like PGP, but when the only way of using Whatsapp is a closed source program, there's no way of telling what's happening to your conversations other than trusting them.

              1. Adam 1 Silver badge

                Re: "Ship! Come back!"

                WhatsApp is a closed source app that implements an open source protocol (signal).

                If they add the capability to generate a new group key-pair whenever requested by the server without authorisation within the app, then a systemic weakness had just been included that anyone who manages to pwn WhatsApp servers can now exploit.

                You might as well just let the server manage the session keys.

                And if you have ever run a Java decompiler (I have but for the record, not on WhatsApp or any other application for which I did not have permission to do so), you would struggle to hide "if (request.Guid==magicGuid) return true;" inside the method responsible for collecting user's consent. The bad guys would have that line NO-OPd within minutes of it being discovered, or they will just move onto whatever other app that implements the signal protocol but is based in whoknowswhere.

                1. cyberdemon
                  Devil

                  Re: "Ship! Come back!"

                  Unfortunately Adam, I don't think the government really cares THAT much about the 'bad guys' :(

                  What governments REALLY worry about are the masses. If people en-masse got angry, they could make themselves a completely new government.

                  If some 'bad guy' blows up a hundred, or even a thousand people, it's not really a problem for a government, in the grand scheme of things. It may even help them, by keeping the masses afraid of such things and persuade them to give up some of their freedoms.

                  The kinds of people who do mass surveillance are only interested in the software used by the masses, i.e. facebook and whatsapp (at the moment).. If you went and used some third-party app that implemented the Signal protocol but didn't pass on your keystrokes to GCHQ, then you would perhaps be flagged on some watch-list or learning system for being an 'abnormal' person, but really they are not that interested in you unless you can communicate with millions of people..

      2. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: "Ship! Come back!"

        You'd be amazed how quickly intelligence services' positions on case-by-case wiretapping can 'evolve':

        https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/update-to-isc-on-gchq-use-of-bulk-equipment-interference-3-december-2018

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: "Ship! Come back!"

          Better break out that pack of one-time pads

  3. Tomato42 Silver badge

    US was big so it could strong-arm crypto makers in the 90's to implement "export grade" crypto, a mistake we most recently paid for this year, almost 20 years after it was deemed unnecessary

    somehow I don't see Ozzies to be this "successful"

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Aussies will get their backdoors to services operated by Aussie companies. What happens outside that could be popcorn-time.

      In an ironic twist, it was an aussie (Eric Young) who first gave us SSLeay, the ancestor of OpenSSL, back in an era when Oz was part of the Free World and the US was almost-uniquely[1] restricted.

      I wonder how you could modify OpenSSL to open a backdoor for malicious third-party-key injection? No, I'm not going to work on it.

      [1] Among developed countries.

  4. RunawayLoop

    Watch out for an incoming "update" to your phone...

  5. redpawn Silver badge

    This is good

    It is a return to the time before people had to lock their doors. You should feel much safer now.

    1. Agamemnon

      Re: This is good

      I have lived in both places and times where "Lock Your Door" was just a concept worthy of ridicule. I would be aghast!

      Looking back, I realize now it was laziness and hubris, mostly.

      [Note: I suspect your down-vote came from someone who hasn't lived in those times, or who has and got burned.]

  6. SVV Silver badge

    They're not fair dinkum!

    This is just so much the best sounding way of avoiding the use of considered, reasoned arguments about the merits of a particular course of action for politicians, that I propose that all politicians worldwide must now do so, instead of all this Fake News! Take back control! unimaginative crap we've been hearing in the Northern hemisphere for what feels like forever.

    I think I could sort of tolerate this much better as at least it makes no pretence at being meaningful and it sounds good. Maybe after about the 500th time, I might begin to tire of it though.

  7. tcmonkey

    I’ve hated my government on many occasions but I have never, NEVER felt as ashamed of them as I do right now.

  8. SNAFUology
    Devil

    !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

    Just sent a load of old hash irregularly thru any of your usual messaging apps, make it look like some encrypted messaging - it'll drive them nuts, provided they suspect you of something of course.

    1. FooCrypt

      Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

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      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        @FooCrypt -- Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

        Hey! You just posted the code of Microsoft's latest C++ compiler!

        1. FooCrypt

          Re: @FooCrypt -- !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

          @Someone Else

          It was a highly sensitive message containing various amounts of the ASCII table ( 32 - 126 ) arranged in an order that constructs a message.

          Whats M$ C++ ??

      2. TimMaher
        Coat

        Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

        Sorry to be pedantic but... line 50, column 16 should have been an ‘L’ rather than an ‘l’, if you are writing in higher crytpese.

        I’ll get my coat. It is the one with the OTP in the pocket.

      3. N2 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

        root certificate to Microsofts DNS servers?

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

      begin 644 annoy.txt

      M"FQD(&AA<V@@:7)R96=U;&%R;'D@=&AR=2!A;GD@;V8@>6]U<B!U<W5A;"!M

      M97-S86=I;F<@87!P<RP@;6%K92!I="!L;V]K(&QI:V4@<V]M92!E;F-R>7!T

      M960@;65S<V%G:6YG("T@:70G;&P@9')I=F4@=&AE;2!N=71S+"!P<F]V:61E

      K9"!T:&5Y('-U<W!E8W0@>6]U(&]F('-O;65T:&EN9R!O9B!C;W5R<V4N"@``

      `

      end

      1. FooCrypt

        Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

        You know they wont look unless they match a string that proves the text is encrypted in some way...;)

        Salted__<8a>ÜRb^AU©<94>PÅÇ^K)¬º<83>6f^BûÁ;Ê}§<93>z´^HùPq&8l_È<87>²^OG~Þ[<8a>å<8d>ã²X^@U<82><9d>^_

        ....

        <83><86>X^LÙÏØÀä^N4^D£ÙC<8a>^V( 7óÓ<8f>¸78*½ønô^\ÂmÍó5<87>S<9c>C°Ùo¾

    3. Tony Paulazzo

      Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

      provided they suspect you of something of course

      They always suspect you of something! It's in the nature of their work that no one is innocent...

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

      "Just sent a load of old hash irregularly thru any of your usual messaging apps, make it look like some encrypted messaging - it'll drive them nuts, provided they suspect you of something of course."

      Of course they'll suspect you of something if you seem to be using encryption.

      Why would you do that in the first place unless you're a Bad GuyTM who has something to fear because he has something to hide, hmm?

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: !@#$Fsg34=#5^GSHJ+ASdgAE$_wfaewgefH

      Just sent a load of old hash irregularly thru any of your usual messaging apps, make it look like some encrypted messaging

      Or use a variant of Rivest's chaff-and-winnow protocol: send a bunch of noise, with the actual signal mixed in, where the recipient has a mechanism for filtering, such as validating a signature on the signal fragments.

      Encrypt all the fragments, and let the spooks decrypt them all. Only the recipient knows which are valid.

  9. FooCrypt

    They are a bunch of children, playing with our security....

    The government sets the sitting days for both houses of parliament. There was no reason what so ever to explain why the government could not have extended the parliament sitting hours yesterday, or added more days this year to resolve all the flaws in the legislation instead of packing their bags and going home, forcing Labour ( who does not have the insights into the actual intelligence reports on the xmas terrorist attacks mentioned by ASIO ) to pass the legislation.

    The 3 billion dollar Encryption export sector has just gone to ZERO....!

    If you know of immigration opportunities for encryption software companies, let me know.

    FooCrypt, prides itself on providing a solution that "takes away the ‘BAD GUYS’", including crappy legislation that destroys human rights and civil liberties. Oz Government included.

  10. John Savard Silver badge

    Puzzling

    I can only guess that the Labor Party leadership was simply terrified that a terrorist attack might happen in Australia over the Christmas holidays.

    Since there is obviously a minority government, or what the opposition Labor Party liked wouldn't have mattered, perhaps when Parliament comes back into session they could just table a bill to repeal this whole mess if amendments aren't forthcoming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Puzzling

      With a month to even respond to a notice, this had nothing whatsoever to do with security over the holidays. More political bullshit and crappy mindless mainstream journalism, just like we're used to DU.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Puzzling

      I can only guess that the Labor Party leadership was simply terrified that a terrorist attack might happen in Australia over the Christmas holidays.

      It can happen anyway. With or without crypto-busting legislation.

      While accepting Somali (and other) refugees more or less with no questions asked in the 70-es was right and moral, not mandating integration always gets you in the end.

      It is the norm that in the absence of integration the second generation swerves widely to the right of Attila the Hun. Whatever the underlying reason, that is a well known fact.

      People may cringe at what, for example, the Danish are doing, but as far long term social stability what they are doing is the right thing. We need more of that.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Puzzling

      I can only guess that the Labor Party leadership was simply terrified that a terrorist attack might happen in Australia over the Christmas holidays.

      Let's face it... that's a bullshit argument. Unless they mean the "holidays of 2019 or later". A quick look at the calendar suggests that any attacks for this year are or should be already planned, terrorists in place, and "radio silence" enforced until the planned day all hell breaks loose.

      This just purely fear mongering and a power grab.

  11. Garymrrsn
    Joke

    Hey Yall Watch This

    "Ain't no piranhas in this encryption river! Hold our beer and we'll show ya!"

  12. Dagg
    Big Brother

    Idiots

    I now feel less secure with the passing of the new legislation designed to allow the government security agencies to access encrypted internet communications.

    No matter what the government says the only way to implement this is to weaken encryption and once the encryption has been weakened this will also allow other foreign governments, tech savvy criminal groups and unscrupulous companies to also intercept your private communications.

    No matter what “protections” such as warrants that the government puts in place mandating how the security agencies can access this information the other entities are not controlled by these protections. And the argument that “if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to fear” means nothing when your personal details / banking details / health information / etc are stolen by 3rd parties not answerable to the Australian government.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Idiots

      "if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to fear”

      I've just applied some basic logic circuits to this one (with all due precautions on overload/paradox etc.) and observed the following..

      1. The only people who are afraid of this legislation are people who understand it technically and how it will affect the relationship between the people and government

      2. The only people who understand this legislation in this sense are intelligent and have a moral conscience/sense of preservation for the whole of society and not just themselves

      Therefore, for the original statement to be true, it can be considered 'wrong' to be both intelligent and have a moral conscience.

      Now you know what the people who utter that phrase really believe.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Idiots

        This is a variation on "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

        Might I point out that you don't have a plate glass exterior wall in your shower, and you do have drapes over the windows in your living room & bedroom ... and hopefully there is a door between your toilet and the rest of your house. What are you hiding? Are you a criminal?

        Privacy isn't always covering something illegal.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Re: Idiots

          Might I point out that you don't have a plate glass exterior wall in your shower,

          True. It's clear perspex.

          and you do have drapes over the windows in your living room & bedroom

          No I don't.

          and hopefully there is a door between your toilet and the rest of your house.

          There is, but it stays open. Well, OK, I shut it to keep the roomba out if the floor's wet. And occasionally for guests.

          But I do have locks on both front and back doors, and indeed a burglar alarm. Nothing to hide, but just possibly something to fear?

  13. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    I hear the second bill of the next parliamentary year is one to stop the ocean tide.

    Be interesting to see if any tech companies announce plans to just not have an Australian presence any more.

    1. JohnMurray

      Just call it the "Canute" bill....

    2. Tomato42 Silver badge

      no, they are going to outlaw CO₂ thus solving Global Warming once and for all

      Once And For All!

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        > no, they are going to outlaw CO₂ thus solving Global Warming once and for all

        You know, I'm doubtful that they'd get such a proposal through their party room .... You'd need to convince them that CO2 was bad first.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fools on the hill

    Secure in their madness.

  15. Maelstorm Bronze badge

    At least our Congress is intelligent enough to realize that you cannot legislate science.

    1. FooCrypt

      I think they have been reading the congress notes from the mid 90's key escrow laws, not to mention munitions

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        the congress notes from the mid 90's key escrow laws, not to mention munitions

        In the US, key escrow and cryptography-as-munitions were both moves by the executive branch, not the legislative. Congress didn't have anything directly to do with them. (Key escrow, particularly the Clipper Chip, came from the NSA and was pushed by the Clinton administration; including cryptography as munitions was done by the State Department.)

        Not that it matters much - in the Foolishness Sweepstakes, the executive and the legislative both have plenty of awards.

  16. Mike Lewis

    As Thijs-vr on Reddit said

    Canberra is filled with a bunch of retards when it comes to anything with a current running through it.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: As Thijs-vr on Reddit said

      "a digital watch?"

      -courtesy of 'Not the 9 O'clock News'

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As Thijs-vr on Reddit said

      Canberra is filled with a bunch of enemies of the people.

      TFTFY

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    on the bright side ...

    those muppets have apparently, in some countries, dropped the proverbial encryption backdoor and all of the magical thinking behind.

    A by law wiretap may be the less of evil, after all. But yes, it will get abused, as well, but to a lesser extend.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      There's no technical difference

      A wiretap is a backdoor, and exposes your privates to anyone and everyone who cares to try.

      When wiretapping meant physically clipping onto actual wires, it was less serious because a miscreant who did it would have been found out relatively quickly.

      Under this legislation, wiretaps become automated and thus any miscreant, anywhere in the world can create one. For example, on the private communications of the Australian Prime Minister.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you very much, government ..

    .. says practically every software developer in Oz.

    How on earth is any Oz code cutter going to prove their code isn't fitted with a backdoor if that has effectively become a legal requirement? Way to go to pretty much nuke an industry, and to promote the use of non-Oz services*.

    * Someone in Australia can still be served with a warrant for access to their data, but surveillance will be interesting when everyone reverts to using non Australian software.

    Unbelievably stupid decision IMHO.

    1. FooCrypt

      Re: Thank you very much, government ..

      Im looking at immigration opportunities to bypass what has been an on going 5 year struggle against the Liberal Parties stance on encryption. If you know any, message me via www.foocrypt.net.

      I was nuked 2.7 years ago, the Australian Signals Directorate placed a caveat in my Defence Export Controls permit, wanting to know if my software or variations are used in Weapon of Mass Destruction programs.

      Be Protected, Get ….…..

      The FooKey METHOD :

      http://foocrypt.net/the-fookey-method

      The common flaws in ALL encryption technologies to date are :

      1. Typing on a KeyBoard to enter the password

      2. Clicking on the Mouse / Pointer device that controls the location of the cursor

      3. Some person or device looking / recording your screen as you type the password

      4. The human developing a password that is easily guess, or can be brute forced due to its length

      5. Sharing the password with a third party to decrypt the data

      6. Storing the encrypted data in a secure location so no unauthorised access can be made to either the key(s) to decrypt the data or the encrypted data itself

      7. The Right Wing Policies of the Liberal Party of Australia, being forced into law

      FooCrypt, A Tale Of Cynical Cyclical Encryption, takes away the ‘BAD GUYS’ by providing you with software engineered to alleviate all the above.

  19. Christoph Silver badge

    "because we're not going to go home and leave the Australian people on their own over Christmas.

    Why all this whinging about Australian software? If they can get this designed, coded, tested, and up and running on all the multitude of different systems and have that all in place well before this Christmas, Australian software must be by far the best in the world. No other country could even begin to do anything so complex in that timescale.

    1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

      "....Why all this whinging about Australian software? If they can get this designed, coded, tested, and up and running on all the multitude of different systems and have that all in place well before this Christmas, Australian software must be by far the best in the world. No other country could even begin to do anything so complex in that timescale...."

      --

      Done and Finished! You can NOW HAVE Quantum Computing resistant communications (Lattice/Invariate/One-time PAD) PLUS CAAST-256 x 3 (768 bits) that is BOTH peer-to-peer AND runs on top of AND outside of Facebook, Google/Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Skype and any web browser app to encrypt your communications.

      Nothing ANYONE can do about it as it is ALL Open Source and Completely FREE --- Only GNU GPL3 copyrights are imposed.

  20. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Just pull out,...

    ... the big players should, temporarily, block comms in Oz. No Facebook, Google, Whatsapp etc, for a couple of days, maybe a week. Turn Oz into a data wasteland, just to show the Govt what hackers could do to them if backdoors were exploited. Then, once the populace have revolted and hung all the politicians from the nearest Eucalyptus tree, their replacements might have a different attitude.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sick

    What's really sick about this is that the bastards deliberately delayed parliament to avoid a vote to look after sick kids yet scrambled to get this excrement through.

  22. EricM
    Boffin

    Australia is doing a favor to the world

    by showing what happens when you elect grossly incompetent persons to govern you.

    A state led by incompetent persons (expletitive removed) will act incompetent. Or like in this case like a moron.

    I am sure this attempt legislating away mathematics will be watched carefully by a worldwide audience.

    To all Australians: Sorry for you, guys... Hope the world will at least learn from your sacrifice how not to do security legislation.

    And try to not also screw up the upcoming elections...

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Australia is doing a favor to the world

      The US has shown the same thing, or have you not noticed our orange faced buffoon who thinks he's king?

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Australia is doing a favor to the world

      After the private sector sucks up all those intelligent yet power hungry and greedy folks, what's left for government? The choice for elected officials is pretty bad world wide due to the lack of critical thinking processes on the candidates' part.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        @Mark 85

        The problem isn't the lack of critical thinking processes on the part of (most) candidates. It is the lack of critical thinking processes in voters. When republicans have an ever growing checklist of requirements to be considered a "real" republican (and now need a blessing by king Trump) they need to put any critical thinking skills they have on hold. Which is why the only congressmen willing to stand up to Trump are the ones on their way out the door.

        Democrats look to be following the same playbook, as recently there have been suggestions from some democratic donors that potential 2020 democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke isn't "progressive enough" and actually said electing him would be like electing Obama again. Bernie or bust I guess, nevermind his age. Just like Bush and Reagan couldn't win nomination in today's republican party, perhaps before long Clinton (Bill) and Obama couldn't win nomination in today's democratic party.

    3. VikiAi Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Australia is doing a favor to the world

      Don't feel sorry for us (as a group). We (as a group) elected individuals of this ilk and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future.

  23. Rob Crawford

    So what happens if the software providers simply don't bother to add the back door, and say we don't really care about the Australian market anyway.

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      They just ask "are you Australian?" like porn sites that ask if you are 18.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Let's say stupidity prevails and Apple, Google and Microsoft build Australian spy support into their operating system software. What stops me from refusing to update from a pre-spying software version?

      The "bad guys" will stick with today's versions of iOS, Android and Windows. Maybe in five years that could get to be a problem, but they might outlast the current government until someone else comes along who maybe has more sense. Or will they try to make non-conforming stuff illegal after a time, so any Android phone not capable of being updated becomes illegal?

      I hope Apple, Google and Microsoft tell the Aussie government to stuff it. See how long the current leadership lasts after telling the public that they can no longer buy an iPhone, Android or Windows PC.

  24. theOtherJT

    I promised I'd keep doing this...

    -----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----

    Version: GnuPG v2.0.22 (GNU/Linux)

    jA0EAwMC8wwTaVPYrpLWyZrN/k2M1YFSO/yCipIAsvGE43YEp/XghbWbU2aO4IVH

    euONp13SX9dVjmM4xn3iH4Jlp+eh86oW7+v2ODlX8oEmSp3GVAwRyS7idFUuxYwG

    VDN244IQszDELTcsGDyvye0rgNAUQ+zrl8Vz+naViopb+2hE5W/3SaZ9zdO68EDr

    wEIRrarFsxRJM32RtWIqQk5j4xKe1QbPUdGi

    =xBWy

    -----END PGP MESSAGE-----

    And lo, I'm still doing it. I'm still going to be able to do it once this law takes effect.

    1. FooCrypt

      Re: I promised I'd keep doing this...

      Your PGP message has 1 layer of asynchronous encryption, my message above has 50 layers of symmetric encryption, with each layer having a password length of 512 random characters.

      Which one do you think they will brute force first ?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: I promised I'd keep doing this...

        Maybe it is intended to be forced, thus they get the message..

        "Keep your nose out of my business you wankers!" perhaps?

        1. FooCrypt

          Re: I promised I'd keep doing this...

          I found it easier to provide a quote from one of Rodney Rude's live performances in my first submission to the PJCIS. https://pjcis.foocrypt.net/ but unfortunately, they decided only to accept it as correspondence, and not publish it.

          Just re arrange the first three characters of the 9425 in my message above..;)

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: I promised I'd keep doing this...

      They can make use of GNU PGP illegal, and put you in jail, I suppose. The UK will jail people for refusing to tell them their password, so anything is possible.

      1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

        Re: I promised I'd keep doing this...

        I'm TELLING the autralian govrnment RIGHT NOW ....TO PISS OFF !!!

        Gooo EFF THEMSELVES !!!

        Arrest them, put them on trial, convict them and put these mofos IN JAIL FOR TREASON against the people of Australia !!!!! RISE UP AUSTRALIANS It's time to wake the hell up and TAKE BACK CONTROL

        OF YOUR OWN COUNTRY !!!!!!!

    3. Agamemnon

      Re: I promised I'd keep doing this...

      -----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----

      hQEMAxGl3ti0GufqAQf9F8aMf14xitq7NOraq+6h4EC3q3arHt7VPbcjyjbSDlDY

      F8tmCH0JIPUSQGBlzW0WFzgQYYn5dDJgUpM7DEOapbA/ZCkB7YBg3zDG0yjm6zOz

      TdrXoL5OYCv0qF+LJL6s3yBFqMnwzZkvdFf0YsiUw1TAnWRrjg/IEZ2ZcEbnDOOq

      qvlR8lWZW41hV9wtN82v1VS/G28VHGje321g2FRNXeQL59aXwEJeQ1gdF30KzI9T

      A4IJ7pjN97V23qedVjnS6afmUFx+1f7GDGT5lFhrUJ6Lzn6lV8DjmkX51+u5MDIk

      tPWy7n5SWY6jevolcCDlLWCLsvO+igLaVEBamMZewdJTAV7v51Nf1boUAtZuY1NW

      3zNNGZdOJjVXw9wlsW1fZwf15K1pfJwYG17Mp+MgEk8raMiIt6PJNrzMti1bkKXs

      7xb0+DGeiNZifKnPBwH//H4PqPM=

      =hDYl

      -----END PGP MESSAGE-----

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WhatsApp snooping

    So how do they intercept a Australian WhatsApp user talking to a non-Austrailan WhatsApp user without ripping up the signal protocol? They could modify the app at one end to not notify the user that a BCC key was created, but the other end would notice.

    Or if you are using some other end-to-end encrypted chat app - does the publisher have to force all their users to update their app within 28 days with some new shiny feature ( and stealthily embed a backdoor? )

    The end results is that encryption is basically incompatible with this legislation.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: WhatsApp snooping

      They will leave that up to Facebook to figure out, but it seems you could modify the software to ALWAYS produce a BCC key, so you wouldn't be able to tell when they are listening and when they aren't.

      That will come in handy for when they demand a copy of all communications be sent to them to storage and later search, as that is the obvious next step for Australia's new totalitarian government.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: WhatsApp snooping

        They will leave that up to Facebook to figure out, but it seems you could modify the software to ALWAYS produce a BCC key, so you wouldn't be able to tell when they are listening and when they aren't.

        The sender and recipient are both running an app that has the messages in plaintext. There's nothing to stop Facebook from modifying that app to relay the plaintext to the SIGINT service of choice. No need to tamper with the Signal protocol itself, or how the app uses it, if you're only required to subvert that one particular app that uses Signal. And, AFAIK, that's what the law1 requires.

        Vendors who comply with this law will do it by putting backdoors in applications. Some knowledgeable users will build their own applications, or get untainted ones from safe sources. The spooks are assuming that the vast majority of users won't, and they're very likely right about that.

        1Which I like to refer to as Australia Rejects Secure Encryption.

  26. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Ausfailia

    There goes the Cloud Business, then?

  27. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Half a World away

    The Home Office casts an admiring look at Australia and tells itself 'That's how it should be done.'

    Bad luck Oz, you're back in the running for the worst Western democratic leadership again after Theresa May came back so strongly.

    1. trenchfoot

      Re: Half a World away

      right on the first point, but I fear probably wrong on the second. It's just going to inspire the stupid mare to push it through here too.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Half a World away

        Hey, we have a president who may be guilty of treason, I think we are still in the lead for worst western democratic leadership! But you've made great strides with this new law, you may pass us yet!

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      @Mike Richards -- Re: Half a World away

      Teresa May?!? Pffft. TMay is a right piker compared to Agent Orange!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mandate rot13

    Gung jvyy grnpu gurz

  29. David Kelly 2

    USB Socket In Your Skull

    Australians, schedule your appointment now to have a USB socket inserted in your skull because your government considers it inconvenient they can't read your mind.

  30. Tom 35 Silver badge

    So just like...

    Web sites that ask you if you are over 18 and just trust your answer...

    Will we now have sites that ask "Australian yes/no" No? Cool, have some secure email.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Haxorz are dancing in the street

    Back door for one is a back door for all, he's just to dumb to understand it.

    "sacrifice the safety of Australians" should be the name of the law.

  32. Drew Scriver

    Trust us...

    Rest assured, the authorities will never abuse this new right. They have earned our trust. Good thing Aussie authorities aren't like their US, French, or Dutch counterparts.

    -------------------------------------

    "Chicago cops took bribes to share crash report details with attorney."

    "Two Chicago Police officers charged with stealing cash and drugs."

    "Galveston police officer arrested on felony organized criminal activity charges."

    "Wilmington Police officer has been caught on the wrong side of the law."

    "A police officer has been given a final written warning after she admitted accessing and sharing information about a case she was not involved in."

    "What do a police chief, a reverend, and a lawyer all have in common? They’ve all been caught in recent years improperly accessing or sharing information from Massachusetts’ restricted database of criminal records."

    "The Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database includes 8,006 arrest incidents resulting in 13,623 charges involving 6,596 police officers from 2005 through 2012, with more years of data to come. Nearly half these incidents, Stinson and his research team concluded, were violent."

    1. FooCrypt

      Re: Trust us...

      If you haven't heard, VicPol were one of the agencies who pushed hard for the encryption bill to be passed. Am sure the Australian citizens residing or travelling to Victoria, are going to 'TRUST' their ethics and not abuse the new powers ! <- NOT

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-06/graham-ashton-on-lawyer-x-informer-3838/10588236

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on El Reg, we've already had one article on Artificial Intelligence without brains today!

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. chuckm
    Go

    Death spiral

    This is pretty much the final act of a doomed government trying to play the National Security card against our very mildly leftish (but only Saturdays if the wind is from the Nor'Nor'East) opposition.

    The puzzling thing about it, and what makes it completely pointless in my opinion, is that the technology and legislation for lawful interception is already in place (I know this to be true because I worked on it tangentially) as you would expect, and has been for quite a while.

    So what this bloody thing is all about is domestic politics, not security, terrorism, or anything else of any significance whatever. And would this government chuck the Oz tech exporters under the bus for a few votes? You bet! You won't find a bigger bunch of anti-science, benighted twats anywhere except in the US, from whose Tea Party types they have cribbed their entire playbook.

    To paraphrase the late, great Douglas Adams, 'Security is an illusion, National Security doubly so'.

  36. Blofeld's Cat
    Childcatcher

    Hmm ...

    So, no more secret communications then ...

    "Child's bicycle for sale, $100."

    "Grandma's parcel will be delivered on Tuesday."

    "The unicorns are now grazing in Canberra, but they won't drink there."

    ...

  37. Scroticus Canis
    Facepalm

    So the last season of Rake was an Oz Parliament documentary?

    Why don't they just ask Huawei for the info?

  38. Chris Reynolds

    Fair Dinkum is alive and kicking

    I've been in Australia for about 12 years now and I hear Fair Dinkum said fairly frequently. I'd say that its use increases with age and distance from a major metropolitan centre so somebody under 40 who lives in Sydney or Melbourne might never hear it.

    But having said that, Scotty "doesn't know" Morrison has over-used it so much that it might make regular users of the phrase cringe a little and reduce their usage.

  39. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Happy

    Idiotocracy

    I think "dumb cunts!" is applicable, here.

    Interesting times ahead, I need more popcorn ... Trump, Brexit, and #YellowVests protests in the country claiming to be the "origin of freedom" have taken their toll on my reserves ...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Atlassian

    All joking aside, as a user of most of the (Australian) Atlassian suite (JIRA, Confluence, bitbucket etc) do I need to be looking at alternatives?

    How serious is the threat?

    1. FooCrypt

      Re: Atlassian

      If they get asked to assist or ordered to put in a back door, its up to their corporate ethics. Either they comply or fight it.

      As a user, the only thing you can do to mitigate an issue, is freeze your development environment, or move it onto some virtualization infrastructure that is protected.

      FooCrypt has several distribution models, one being an ISO, which is impossible to backdoor..!

      The common flaws in ALL encryption technologies to date are :

      1. Typing on a KeyBoard to enter the password

      2. Clicking on the Mouse / Pointer device that controls the location of the cursor

      3. Some person or device looking / recording your screen as you type the password

      4. The human developing a password that is easily guess, or can be brute forced due to its length

      5. Sharing the password with a third party to decrypt the data

      6. Storing the encrypted data in a secure location so no unauthorised access can be made to either the key(s) to decrypt the data or the encrypted data itself

      7. The Right Wing Policies of the Liberal Party of Australia, being forced into law so they can all make it to the xmas party…!

      FooCrypt, A Tale Of Cynical Cyclical Encryption, takes away the above ‘BAD GUYS’ by providing you with software engineered to alleviate all the above.

  41. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    What's next.

    For safety's sake... we will now torture you, to ensure we find all narcotics and any chemical which can be used to make explosives.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. FooCrypt

    re : What's next. ???

    anyone found with items that can be used to separate H2O into separate atoms

    @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water

    "Water is a transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is the name of the liquid state of H2O at standard ambient temperature and pressure. It forms precipitation in the form of rain and aerosols in the form of fog. Clouds are formed from suspended droplets of water and ice, its solid state. When finely divided, crystalline ice may precipitate in the form of snow. The gaseous state of water is steam or water vapor. Water moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation, transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. "

    Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms, extracted via your common kitchen kettle, can be collected, stored and utilized as combustion sources in any explosive device...just add the spark from the brains of the combined LNP government combined intelligence to ignite it !!!

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Separate-Hydrogen-and-Oxygen-from-Water-Through-El/

  43. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    The threats are myriad

    "Yes, encryption enables us all to live safer online lives. But its ubiquity brings anonymity to bugbears, hobgoblins, and bogey-men gangs, who live under our beds and in our closets."

    Thought I'd fix that for J. Fleming, or Ol' Phlegm-head, as his friends call him. (Or so I've heard.)

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