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Friday, 12 October 2018

Apple Pens Seven-Page Letter to Fight Against ‘Dangerously Ambiguous’ Anti-Encryption Bill in Australia

Right now in Australia, a potential bill would require tech companies to provide “critical assistance” to various agencies that are investigating crimes.


The bill in its current state leaves a lot to be desired in the eyes of companies like Apple, who considers it “dangerously ambiguous” and rallies against the very idea of encryption. Apple, of course, relies on encryption and personal device security as a major tentpole feature for its products, especially iOS devices. The Australian government, however, says encryption methods “are increasingly being used by terrorist groups and organized criminals to avoid detection and disruption”, and, as a result, wants to temper the implementation moving forward.


TechCrunch reports that Apple has made it very clear it opposes the current bill, penning a seven page letter to the Australian parliament to present its opposition:


“We appreciate the government’s outreach to Apple and other companies during the drafting of this bill,” the letter read. “While we are pleased that some of the suggestions incorporated improve the legislation, the unfortunate fact is that the draft legislation remains dangerously ambiguous with respect to encryption and security.”


“This is no time to weaken encryption,” it read. “Rather than serving the interests of Australian law enforcement, it will just weaken the security and privacy of regular customers while pushing criminals further off the grid.””


Apple has six specific points it touches on in the letter, which is source linked at the bottom of this article. Apple’s arguments include the bill’s potential violation of international agreements, that the bill may harm “user trust”, and that it could potentially weaken cybersecurity in general. Apple also echoes that security experts have made it clear that a “backdoor” in software, even built specifically for law enforcement, would not be immune to hackers looking to exploit the opening.


“For instance, the bill could allow the government to order the makers of smart home speakers to install persistent eavesdropping capabilities into a person’s home, require a provider to monitor the health data of its customers for indications of drug use, or require the development of a tool that can unlock a particular user’s device regardless of whether such tool could be used to unlock every other user’s device as well,” the letter said.”


Apple is a staunch supporter of encryption, and has even gone up against the Federal Bureau of Investigation over it. In that case, Apple also argued that any changes it could make to facilitate the FBI’s needs for software access would also make it possible for hackers to reach the same end result.


This is a battle that Apple is not going to give up on, even internationally. Whether or not it will have any affect on the Australian government’s future decision remains to be seen, though.


[via TechCrunch; Apple; AGDHA]

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