Greens slam govt’s attack on encryption

Senator Scott Ludlam criticises “knee-jerk” attack on encrypted services

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has criticised comments made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said yesterday that companies such as Facebook and Apple should provide government agencies with access to encrypted messaging services.

Global “social media and messaging companies” need to assist the fight against terrorism by “providing access to encrypted communications which are used by billions of people”, the PM said yesterday.

Turnbull cited WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage as examples.

“You may recall the difficulty the FBI had getting access to the iPhone of one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino attack,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull’s comments echoed those by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who called for increased regulation of Internet services in the wake of the London attacks.

“This knee-jerk reaction to horrific incidents is not going to prevent more of them,” Ludlam said in a statement released today.

“Spying on more people can’t help, particularly when the perpetrators are already known to authorities — as they were in Melbourne, in London, in Sydney.”

“Mass citizen surveillance simply does not work,” the senator said. “Finding needles in a haystack is only made more difficult when you increase the size of the haystack.”

Attempting to build a “back door” into encrypted services would undermine their usefulness for benign purposes, the senator said.

“The same technology used to keep your conversations private keeps your Internet banking safe, it protects against online fraud and theft, it shields businesses from attacks like the ransomware we saw last month,” Ludlam said.

More effective ways to unearth terrorist plots include human intelligence, targeted scrutiny with safeguards and warrants, and adequate resourcing for organisations that disrupt terrorist recruitment, Ludlam said.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said today that “it’s time for big Internet” to join the fight against terrorism.

“We need to make it clear that terrorists have nowhere to hide on our streets, in their countries and also on the internet, and that's why we need to see everything that can possibly be done to join this fight,” Shorten said.

“It’s no good being in a 21st century fight if you're using 20th century weapons.” Shorten cited Facebook, Google and Twitter as examples of ‘big Internet’.

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