Australia’s “Assistance and Access” bill requires companies to give Australian enforcement agencies (ranging from intelligence agencies to the local police) access to encrypted messages on request and may even require individual coders to secretly build in backdoors into applications.
In a blog post, secure messaging service Signal has refused to accede to demands by the Australian government to assist in their surveillance efforts by building a backdoor into their app.
Signal developer Joshua Lund insisted that it was simply impossible for the foundation to help the government spy on their users.
“By design, Signal does not have a record of your contacts, social graph, conversation list, location, user avatar, user profile name, group memberships, group titles or group avatars. The end-to-end encrypted contents of every message and voice/video call are protected by keys that are entirely inaccessible to us.”
Lund added that Signal is open source, meaning anyone can “verify or examine the code for each release.” “People often use Signal to share secrets with their friends, but we can’t hide secrets in our software,” he wrote. “We can’t include a backdoor in Signal.”
Lund noted that politicians themselves were users of the encrypted messaging service and that users are likely to bypass effort to block the app in stores or on the network.
Despite this, Lund is encouraging Australians to reach out to their representatives and express their opposition to the Assistance and Access Bill.