JUNE 26, 2017 – Australian key minister and Attorney General published a memorandum detailing the ban on cryptography in the US, UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia itself, which was presented in the Five Eyes Surveillance Alliance Meeting in Ottawa, Canada.
“The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia”, said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Five Eyes (FVEY) meeting. According to the prime minister, it is crucial that “the internet is not used as a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law.”
The PM has been rightfully mocked by both netizens and the people of Australia alike because of his plan to require online messaging providers to provide law enforcement with back-door-access to encrypted messages. This poses a huge risk on internet freedom in Australia. Without a doubt, a ban on end-to-end encrypted messaging will have absolutely no effect on the “bad people”, as they would choose to avoid using large messaging platforms that have weaker forms of encryption and choose to use those that have a stronger end-to-end encryption based on industry-standard mathematical algorithms. Instead, this ban will hurt regular citizens who rely on this form of encryption to shield their day-to-day messages from prying eyes.
The level of control that the Australian government is enforcing upon its citizens with this act is reminiscent of the Russian government, who is on its way to creating a state-controlled cryptocurrency. In fact, if more and more countries go down this treacherous path, we might see an international agreement banning strong encryption in the near future. As a result, app developers will be subjected to national laws that require them to compromise their encryption standards. Consequently, users might be hesitant to use that app even though they have a network of contacts using it because of the lack of privacy. This will create a widespread dissent amongst the public and eventually shift Australia towards an Orwellian society.
Net Neutrality Abolished
Fast forward six months later – On Dec. 14, 2017, the majority of FCC’s Republican party approved Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to remove the Net Neutrality protections. Net Neutrality refers to an internet that enables and protects free speech. Without the Net Neutrality rules, companies like Verizon and AT&T will be able to decide which content or website gets promoted and which ones don’t.
As a result, they can choose to block political opinions they disagree with while charging extra fees to the few content companies that can afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a lower tier of service.
What has the internet become?