Criminals and terrorists like to use social media to communicate. The United States government and other governments around the world are not happy about that. But the Australian government is going to do something about it. The Australians are forcing the giant tech companies like Facebook and Google to unscramble encrypted messages, so the police can do their job. That job is to identify and then shut down the criminals who function under the radar on the Internet.
Google and Facebook have their own security systems in place, but those systems do not include unscrambling encrypted messages. If social media giants unscramble encrypted messages, they will expose their systems to hackers, according to security experts and Facebook executives. But the new Australian law would give the police the same surveillance power as the British gave their intelligence service in 2016. Britain has the most extensive intelligence powers in the West, according to the Australian government. The new Australian law would make Internet companies help intelligence agencies just like the phone companies do. But Intelligence agencies would need a warrant to access encrypted messages, according to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Australia is not the only country that has a hard time keeping up with drug traffickers, terrorists and Internet criminals. The United States and European Union countries have the same problem. The Apple case is a good example of tech company resistance. Tech companies do not want to expose their systems to the outside world. Apple didn’t want to unlock the cell phone of the San Bernardino shooter for the FBI because unlocking it would compromise as well as undermine the encryption process. Apple fought back, and it wasn’t pretty, but eventually, the FBI got what they needed. But they didn’t get it directly from Apple.
The unscrambling issue is all about consumer privacy and protection. The tech companies want to protect consumers, but they must also follow the law, according to Malcolm Turnbull. But doing both is a challenge. Australia’s Attorney General George Brandis calls the encryption system, “the greatest degradation of intelligence and law enforcement ever.”
Attorney General George Brandis believes there is a backdoor system, and that system could help police do their job without impacting the security of other Internet users. And that backdoor system could also deter hackers from invading social media sites. But the big social media sites are not going down without a fight. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, wasn’t afraid to fight, and Zuckerman and the other CEOs are not afraid to fight either.