Breaking encryption is still stupid, part 5,487

Australian_flag-730x438This discussion is like being caught in some time loop where nobody is able to learn anything new.

The nice folks at Signal, makers of an excellent encrypted messaging app (seriously, if everyone threw away Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger and just used Signal the world would be nicer), have explained to the Australian government why their new law that attempts to ban encryption that works is as dumb as a box of rocks.

The developer pointed out that while the Australian government could try to block the service or restrict access, “this strategy hasn’t worked very well.”
Signal users will find a way, he suggested.

“If a country decided to apply pressure on Apple or Google to remove certain apps from their stores, switching to a different region is extremely trivial on both Android and iOS,” he continued. “Popular apps are widely mirrored across the internet. Some of them can even be downloaded directly from their official website.”

There are two main things that are not complicated but beyond the grasp of legislators (not just in Australia, but also the US and EU):

  • There is no backdoor into a system that magically only works for the good guys. If you build a backdoor for law enforcement, you’ve also built one for clever criminals, and yes, they are very clever.
  • If you try to just keep encrypted apps away from people, the very motivated will just find another way to get them, which isn’t hard, even if you have an iPhone.

So the next result will be every Australian user will be using apps with vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals, people out to do bad things will just use functioning encryption to hide, and nobody is better off.

Perhaps one day we can talk about policies that aren’t built on fantasies about how our technology works.

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