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Australia Communications Encryption Government Privacy Politics

Australia's Major Parties Vote Against Encryption In Wake of Apple FBI Case (delimiter.com.au) 172

daria42 writes: If you're counting on Apple to keep your digital information safe, you may want to think again ... at least if you live in Australia. Yesterday the country's two major political parties — Labor and the Coalition — voted down a motion in Federal Parliament calling for strong encryption to be supported in the wake of the FBI's demands that Apple unlock iOS. It appears that implementing comprehensive telephone and email retention in Australia may not have been the end of demands by law enforcement in the country.
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Australia's Major Parties Vote Against Encryption In Wake of Apple FBI Case

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  • Fucked Country (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @01:07AM (#51572813)

    Congratulations Australia, you're fucked.

    • by dohzer ( 867770 )

      The one positive is that Australia's not diverting attention from a gun problem to an encryption problem.

    • Congratulations Australia, you're fucked.

      Just which one is the un-fucked country these days?

      • I hear there are some quite Northern countries mostly filled with white people which are doing pretty well with their democracies and their socialism. At least, they seem to be happy.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Like Finland and Sweden, eh? Maybe it was so at some point but things changed during the last year.

          Look at the news concerning life here in the North and think again. Sweden has run out of sleeping space in refugee centers due to the sheer number of incoming people. In Finland we daily discuss the hybrid warfare actions from Russia and wonder when the refugees will start to pour in to from across the Russian border in numbers. For us it is a question of "when" not "if". All the promises made during the camp

    • It was a moronic spur of the moment motion by a minor party looking for publicity. The motion had no merits or substance of any kind and never ha any chance whasoever, purely a stunt by a minor party and a complete non issue.
  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @01:11AM (#51572823)
    A big part of the issue is that voters demand 'total security' from their governments - Citizens expect to be wrapped in a big, warm security blanket. You can't have total security and total liberty, so the governments dispense with liberty. Voters don't mind because hey, their kids are 'safe.'
    • Its partly due to how terror attacks are covered by the media. For suicides, newspapers often don't report about them because they fear imitators. And smaller accidents which, in the sum, kill far more people aren't reported about either. Perhaps in the local press, but even there it doesn't get on the front page.

      The sad thing is, this is helping terrorism.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sure is. People dont understand that evil people mostly will use strong encryption anyway, or that in the case of phone decryption a warrant (or not, depending on circumstance) allows access to your phone records, email, internet etc etc so mostly who you have contacted, messages sent etc can still be collected with the rules in place now. Being able to decrypt the phone actually provides very little more evidence while the back doors being allowed now reduce your personal security significantly.

        Of course d

      • Media plays up terrorism as the greatest threat. But the odds of being harmed by terrorism is miniscule compared to every day dangers that people become complacent about. Auto accidents, smoking, crossing the street. There's a bigger chance of being injured by lightning.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Its partly due to how terror attacks are covered by the media

        Yes - a mentally ill guy holding up a cafe became a "terrorist" and due to the over-reaction a hostage ended up being killed by a police bullet due to a military style response by people who were not real military.
        There is a strong push to buy votes with fear and Mordoch's media is part of the push. No conspiracy, it's all out in the open with a wide money trail to follow.

    • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @01:41AM (#51572939)

      A big part of the issue is that voters demand 'total security' from their governments - Citizens expect to be wrapped in a big, warm security blanket. You can't have total security and total liberty, so the governments dispense with liberty. Voters don't mind because hey, their kids are 'safe.'

      And the irony is that it does nothing to make them safe. Criminals will still have guns and strong encryption, and the people now have less liberty.

      • The reality is that the relative geographic isolation of Australia and the fact that, for most people, something that happens there might as well be on the moon, has more to do with the lack of terrorist attacks than the steady increase in government surveillance and the erosion of liberty. Unfortunately, the politicians will just say "hey, no attacks, so we must be right!"
        • The reality is that the relative geographic isolation of Australia and the fact that, for most people, something that happens there might as well be on the moon, has more to do with the lack of terrorist attacks than the steady increase in government surveillance and the erosion of liberty. Unfortunately, the politicians will just say "hey, no attacks, so we must be right!"

          Yeah, they use that argument in the U.S., too.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        A big part of the issue is that voters demand 'total security' from their governments - Citizens expect to be wrapped in a big, warm security blanket. You can't have total security and total liberty, so the governments dispense with liberty. Voters don't mind because hey, their kids are 'safe.'

        And the irony is that it does nothing to make them safe. Criminals will still have guns and strong encryption, and the people now have less liberty.

        Actually, when it comes to guns, there's decent evidence to suggest that stricter gun laws actually may help reduce some of their problematic side effects:

        Results Over the 4-year study period, there were 121 084 firearm fatalities. The average state-based firearm fatality rates varied from a high of 17.9 (Louisiana) to a low of 2.9 (Hawaii) per 100 000 individuals per year. Annual firearm legislative strength scores ranged from 0 (Utah) to 24 (Massachusetts) of 28 possible points. States in the highest quartile of legislative strength (scores of 9) had a lower overall firearm fatality rate than those in the lowest quartile (scores of 2) (absolute rate difference, 6.64 deaths/100 000/y; age-adjusted incident rate ratio [IRR], 0.58; 95% CI, 0.37-0.92). Compared with the quartile of states with the fewest laws, the quartile with the most laws had a lower firearm suicide rate (absolute rate difference, 6.25 deaths/100 000/y; IRR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.48-0.83) and a lower firearm homicide rate (absolute rate difference, 0.40 deaths/100 000/y; IRR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.38-0.95).

        Conclusions and Relevance A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually. As our study could not determine cause-and-effect relationships, further studies are necessary to define the nature of this association.

        * http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1661390

        This may be due to the fact that they're physical artifacts. With encryption, being software/ephemeral, this may not apply as much. Certainly in the 1990s, there were various mechanisms for making and spreading crypto due to US ITAR restrictions. The BSDs for example had various ways of makin

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        A big part of the issue is that voters demand 'total security' from their governments - Citizens expect to be wrapped in a big, warm security blanket. You can't have total security and total liberty, so the governments dispense with liberty. Voters don't mind because hey, their kids are 'safe.'

        And the irony is that it does nothing to make them safe. Criminals will still have guns and strong encryption, and the people now have less liberty.

        The really incorrect thing about that statement is that very, very few criminals here in Oz have guns. Certainly not the ones who the average person would meet in a dark alley. Its comforting knowing that if a crim gets the jump on me, he wont be armed with anything that I couldn't fight back against or be used against me if I leg it.

      • And the irony is that it does nothing to make them safe. Criminals will still have guns and strong encryption, and the people now have less liberty.

        But much less risk of being shot than your average "liberated" American.

    • Hey I want total security from my government, Sadly they seem hell bent on preventing me from protecting myself from them as well as others who would do me harm.
    • A big part of the issue is that voters demand 'total security' from their governments - Citizens expect to be wrapped in a big, warm security blanket. You can't have total security and total liberty, so the governments dispense with liberty. Voters don't mind because hey, their kids are 'safe.'

      Have you considered the possibility that for many people that may be a very good trade? Suppose the vast majority of citizens, let's say 70% for example, are quite OK with trading liberties for security. So what exactly do you do then? Do you kill everybody who disagrees with you? Suck it up, buttercup and just complain all the time? Move? And what if you don't even live in Australia, then how exactly is this your problem? Do you ever accept the fact that you have the minority viewpoint and like it

      • Have you considered the possibility that for many people that may be a very good trade? Suppose the vast majority of citizens, let's say 70% for example, are quite OK with trading liberties for security. So what exactly do you do then?

        Even if there was only one person in the entire world who preferred liberty, that would still be their right, no matter how many others are perfectly willing to trade it away for the promise of security. You have the right to forfeit your own liberty, if that is your choice; you do not have the right to trade away others' liberty, no matter how outnumbered they may be.

      • The problem is that this level of protection gives governments the incentive to keep the threats alive so that they can hold on to their power. This way, your compromise of liberty doesn't really gain you any security in the end. In George Orwell's book 1984, this threat comes in the form of a perpetual stalemate war between major powers. Since the war is the excuse for the extreme totalitarian measures keeping society under control, the major powers keep the stalemate going. If you think about it, howe
    • A big part of the issue is that voters demand 'total security' from their governments - Citizens expect to be wrapped in a big, warm security blanket. You can't have total security and total liberty, so the governments dispense with liberty. Voters don't mind because hey, their kids are 'safe.'

      Hmmm, yet you prefer to be dead? Strange definition of liberty...

  • First (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You demanded security in place of liberty
    Now you accept vulnerability in place of security

    And you'll never get the liberty you paid for all this back.

  • At least stupidity doesn't skip continents.
    • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @02:39AM (#51573103)

      At least stupidity doesn't skip continents.

      You are referring to the summary above I take it ... ;)

      What has happened here is that a minor party (the Greens) have, almost on the spur of the moment, put forward a motion without any attempt to shore up political support in either House of Parliament, and --unsurprisingly, not being on the policy agenda of either major party, --said motion was not carried. There was never any intention by Sen Ludlam that his motion pass (he's not insane you know). This was done instead to highlight the issue (and perhaps his party's stance, though I note he was supported by minor parties of various political shades).

      To conclude, as the summary does, that "[i]t appears that implementing comprehensive telephone and email retention in Australia may not have been the end of demands by law enforcement in the country" is either wildly misinformed, disingenuous, or outright insane. Now we probably haven't heard the end of demands by law enforcement in Australia, but the ineluctable defeat of this motion in the Senate has little to do with that.

  • by Gumbercules!! ( 1158841 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @01:24AM (#51572875)
    This is interesting. I live in Australia and I have barely even heard about this vote. It's been a "non-issue" in the news, here. There has been minor coverage of the FBI issue with Apple but extremely minor. You'll note the link in the article, "delimiter" is hardly a mainstream news outlet. The main news outlets here (abc.net.au, etc.) haven't even got this on their front page (at the time of this post).

    So basically, both sides of government have managed to keep it pretty much below the radar.

    I'm not saying it's totally out of the news (I heard it in a news bulletin that lastest about 4 seconds) but the media is not running with this as an issue. So Joe Public will never care because he's never going to even know he should care.
    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      You should re-name your country to Murdochville. His declared 'war against labor' (and lions share of the news media) is the reason why Australian politics looks the way it does in 2016.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes of course and if only Labor were able to vote to protect us, like they did with supporting the TPP, supporting internet monitoring of all citizens... No, both the major parties are for morons to vote for. Even if you dislike some of the Greens policies, like I do, you really should be voting for them if you have a pinch of intelligence. They are the only party able to help, they did an amazing job when Labor was in power and had to deal with them, the minor parties also did alright in saving us from t

        • by Burz ( 138833 )

          Yes, Gillard was for the TPP, but the carbon tax is the main reason why the Murdoch empire came out against Labor. The oligarchs are very picky these days: They want total loyalty to their version of capitalism on all the issues.

    • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @01:43AM (#51572945)

      You didn't hear about it because it is a non-issue, not because of people not being interested, but because anything put forward by the greens or the independents in the senate is a non-issue. It's not even about the major parties keeping this below the radar, this is about as news worthy as a greens senator saying "From now on all t-shirts must be blue" and having that voted down.

      This is solely and purely a political stunt by the greens to try and get some air time in the run up to the election later this year.

    • Why would a spur of the moment motion that has zero substance or effect regardless of whether it passes or not hold any news value whatsoever. The truly sad thing is somehow something like this actually made it here, sad indictment on this site really.
  • How do we protect ourselves from a wicked majority?

  • This has been done so quiet and stealthy. What an embarrassing day to live here in Australia in regards to IT privacy.
    • it was done stealthy and quietly by the greens because it wqas garbage. It doesn't matter whether this passed or not the motion said nothing, it was fluff from the greens trying to get publicity and you heard nothing about it as they pulled it out of their arses at the last moment.
  • A greens senator attempts to grandstand off the back of the FBI vs Apple story in the US to put forward a nothing puff piece that doesn't have any legislation or thought behind it and rather surprisingly the parties in power look at him and so oh go fuck off and waste someone else's time. If they hadn't then this non existent idea would have gone to the house of reps and they would have said "what the hell is this? There is nothing here to vote on, no legislation, no laws, nothing. Why am I looking at th

  • Pointless bill (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @01:40AM (#51572937)

    The motion called upon the Senate to note that strong digital encryption protects the personal and financial information of millions of people; that encryption is an important tool to prevent identity theft and other crime; that encryption ensures that public interest whistleblowers, journalists and other civil society actors can conduct their activities more securely; and that the Government, through services such as Medicare and Centrelink, and digital platforms such as myGov, depends on encryption to keep client information safe.

    The motion also called upon the Senate to note that any decrease in public trust in digital systems and services will present an obstacle to the Government’s agile innovation agenda”.

    Secondly, it called upon the Federal Government to “support the continued development and use of strong encryption technologies; resist any push from other governments to weaken encryption on personal devices; and work with law enforcement to develop alternative avenues to obtain information through warrants and targeted surveillance that does not put every Australian at greater risk of identity theft.”

    It called on the senate to "support" and "note". Sounds like it was a largely pointless bill in the first place. Not that both major parties wouldn't sell out their voters for a dollar if it was on the table, but whether this particular bill passed or didn't will mean precisely squat to anyone, ever.

    • by Gimric ( 110667 )

      This wasn't even a Bill, it was just a motion. Basically just a statement with no legally binding effect on anything. I wouldn't lose my mind over it just yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Poor article. They did not vote against strong encryption, they voted against a ridiculous motion that would have foisted costs on the government for no apparent reason. The government already has a body that ensures agencies etc use strong encryption(ASD). This was just a moronic greens party motion looking for publicity.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apple is a purveyor of proprietary software, you cannot audit the software in the first place. Why take Apple's word? Just because they say their products are secure does not mean that it is. They goof up a lot already (icloud). Whose to say they won't goof up again? Further, backroom deals are made between government and megacorps all the time. Apple has enough precedent to show that they are not interested in the well being of society, rather turning a profit is their priority. They have such a market sha

  • Did anyone expect anything different from the honorary 51st state of America?

    I mean have the Australian government ever disagreed or stood up to the USA? If the world stage were like a school then the USA would be a bunch of arsehole bullying jocks and Australia would be a little nerdy kid doing whatever they tell them to in hope that they may get recognition.

    • Oe world stage were like a school then the USA would be a bunch of arsehole bullying jocks and Australia would be a little nerdy kid doing whatever they tell them to in hope that they may get recognition.

      Oh, that's that kid in the corner of the world stage, surrounded by those guys in full tactical gear (sporting tags on their backs like "NSA", "RIAA", "USTR" and "MPAA") jumping in the air while punching himself in the face!

  • As much as I love watching Master Chef Australia, This is why I couldn't move there.

  • If any government can't protect your information then it has failed you.
  • I'm somewhat out of the loop on this whole thing. We've got a few major countries trying to ban encryption. So does this mean their schools will also stop teaching math? And does this also mean that medical records, banking information, and account passwords/data will all be stored in plain text? I've never really been too concerned about foreign data policies, but if my sensitive data is going to be stored in plain text, I'm going to be extra cautious as to what I register to, and where I go. I hones
  • Encryption is a very basic foundation technology that is required to run a successful business. It's not the tech industries fault that Neanderthals continue to run law enforcement and politics in Australia, however the jobs will leave.

  • If you're counting on Apple to keep your digital information safe..

    Hold it right there. How could someone possibly ever formulate such a strategy?

    Real-life news that a third party (e.g. Apple) is going to be coerced into giving you up, shouldn't have an effect on anything, because you already asked yourself, "what if?"

    C'mon, every one of us already knows there is only one party in the universe who can protect your data: you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the U.S. every phone call and email is already monitored by the government. What's the point in encrypting the phone if the government already has access to all information it sends or receives? Are they looking for photos or files created on the mobile device? It seems like there's no point to locking down the device.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re " What's the point in encrypting the phone if the government already has access to all information it sends or receives?" part to a lot of different federal, state, city gov and NGO groups for free.
      61 agencies apply for metadata access (18/01/2016)
      https://delimiter.com.au/2016/... [delimiter.com.au]
      The other part is who owns the phone can be linked back to a version of the 100 point check with photo ID https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      The "Are they looking for photos or files created on the mobile device?" is a big
  • Highest incidence of alcohol related brain shrinkage in the World, in addition "abo hunting" went on right up to the early 60's.

  • I can hardly believe, but am willing to stand corrected, that such a large majority of Australians are actually against strong encryption to protect themselves from snooping by, among others, their own government. Is this a sign of a messed-up electoral system (first past the post or first past the post plus)? Or do these governments want to grant themselves these abilities, abusing the democratic process?
  • The Australian Government also isn't trying to ban strong encryption or mandate backdoors. They simply don't care and this has no impact on Australians. We still use strong encryption freely and without government interference.

    A minor part, the Greens, put up a motion that is rejected, as practically everything they offer up is... This isn't news. It is not unusual for a government to only support their own legislation, unless it is part of a side deal for minor party support. It gives the issue a bit

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