[ISN] Australia: EFA Calls for Abolition of Crypto Controls

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon Jun 29 1998 - 15:17:27 PDT

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    Forwarded From: Nicholas Charles Brawn <ncb05at_private>
    Originally From: Greg Taylor <gtaylorat_private>
    MEDIA RELEASE                                          30th June 1998
    Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today called for the abolition
    of all controls on cryptography in Australia.  EFA spokesperson Greg 
    Taylor said, "The current export controls are a failure because strong 
    cryptography software is already widely available throughout the world.  
    Furthermore the regulations are stifling Australian initiatives in 
    developing secure communications protocols."
    "Far from achieving their purpose of preventing criminal activity, the
    restrictions on deployment of strong cryptography increase the risk of
    criminal attack on vital infrastructure such as banking and the
    electricity supply system.", Mr. Taylor said.
    "EFA welcomes the Australian government's recent initiatives in respect 
    to Electronic Commerce.  However, these initiatives will come to nothing 
    if secure communications cannot be guaranteed.  Business, privacy and
    technology interests around the world are unanimous that unless there is 
    a relaxation of the cold-war era mentality in relation to encryption 
    policy, electronic commerce will never achieve its full potential.  This 
    is also a privacy issue, a fraud prevention issue, a jobs issue, and an 
    international competitiveness issue."
    "The Defence Department, which is responsible for administering export
    controls under the terms of the Wassenaar Arrangement, has extended
    Australia's compliance with the agreement by encouraging key recovery
    "backdoors" in systems proposed for export licensing.  This is despite
    extensive international evidence that key recovery systems of the type
    proposed by law enforcement agencies are fundamentally unworkable and a 
    risk to data security." said Mr. Taylor.
    "How would Australian citizens react if they were required to lodge 
    copies of their home and office door keys with a government agency, so 
    as to enable law enforcement authorities to search their personal files 
    without their knowledge? Yet that is a close analogy to current 
    Australian policy on encryption software."
    The Department of Defence has recently come under fire for threatening to
    prosecute a Brisbane-based cryptography development group, who developed
    a world-renowned crypto-library and made it available online to 
    commercial software developers.  This software has been incorporated into
    the leading web-server product used for secure electronic commerce.  It 
    is generally acknowledged that the current export regulations, 
    administered through the Customs Act, do not apply to software made 
    available for downloading on the Internet, and EFA will lobby Labor and 
    the Democrats to oppose any moves to amend the Act to ban electronic 
    One of the Brisbane development team, Tim Hudson, said, "The crypto-export
    restrictions are based on the premise that not only are there no competent
    programmers or mathematicians elsewhere in the world, but also that the
    Internet does not exist and that no one can read or type.  The source code
    behind the majority of modern encryption algorithms is available in almost
    every major library in the world."
    Mr Taylor continued, "Australia can show the lead by proposing that
    cryptography goods be dropped from the terms of the Wassenaar Arrangement,
    an international regime to control trade in high-grade munitions.  Federal
    Coalition policy opposes heavy-handed attempts to ban strong encryption
    techniques, and the other major Federal parties have also supported
    relaxation of current controls.  Furthermore, the Prime Minister announced
    in March that Australia would adopt the OECD Cryptography guidelines, 
    which are regarded as far more acceptable than existing controls.  Despite
    these promising statements, Australia persists with a cold-war mentality 
    when it comes to actually implementing policy."
    "EFA intends to contact every Senator and Member of Parliament to bring 
    them up-to-date with this issue.  Despite the importance of crypotgraphy
    to Australia's future in the Information Age, the matter has received 
    scant attention by the Parliament.  We think it's time that our 
    legislators were informed about this critical issue," Mr. Taylor concluded.
    Electronic Frontiers Australia is an online privacy advocacy group 
    concerned about the growing intrusion of government into people's personal
    For further information:
       Greg Taylor - Brisbane   07 3370 6362   E-mail:  gtaylorat_private
       Kim Heitman - Perth      08 9458 2790   E-mail:  chairat_private
       Danny Yee   - Sydney     02 9351 5159   E-mail:  danny.yeeat_private
    Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc                  http://www.efa.org.au
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