PM’s stance on encryption will compromise technology of the future, expert says

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been reprimanded by one of the world’s most respected internet security professionals for his comments on encryption, and for his push to force tech companies to allow police access to encrypted communications, which critics say will not be possible to implement.

In a press conference in July announcing the draft legislation Mr Turnbull remarked, in response to a technology journalist’s question, that “the laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia”.

“I’m a mathematician,” says McAfee fellow and chief scientist Raj Samani, “[and] the one thing about mathematics is that you know, it is binary, that’s what we love about it, right?

“So, look, good luck trying to change the law of mathematics, I would suggest.”

Speaking exclusively to Fairfax at the McAfee MPOWER cybersecurity summit in Las Vegas, Mr Samani asked Mr Turnbull to reconsider his approach when it comes to consultation, or lack thereof, with the technology community on his government’s upcoming bill, which aims to address the issue law-enforcement agencies are facing when criminals and terrorists “go dark” by utilising encrypted communications and devices.

Mr Samani says his advice to Canberra — should it continue to want to legislate against technology companies to compel them to assist with access to encrypted communications — was “to engage and consult with the firms that this will impact”.


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