Australia wants Apple to create an iPhone backdoor

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iPhone hack
Apple is unlikely to be totally on-board.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis is set to meet with a representative from Apple this week to discuss the subject of strong encryption, and how this relates to police and intelligence agency investigations.

Brandis is reportedly pushing for Apple to create a backdoor that would allow security agencies to circumvent Apple’s current end-to-end encryption.

Apple agreeing to voluntarily create such a backdoor would be his “first preference,” a report claims, but Brandis also told Sky News that, “we will also be legislating so that we do have that coercive power if need be if we don’t get the cooperation we seek.”

Another country protests encryption

Australia’s proposed new anti-encryption law is said to be similar to the U.K.’s Investigatory Powers Act, introduced in 2016. That particular law — also known as the “snooper’s charter”–  was ruled illegal by the European Union’s highest court back in December.

Apple has yet to publicly comment on the Australian encryption crackdown. However, it is unlikely to be supportive. In the case of the Investigatory Powers Act, Apple criticized the bill during its draft stage, arguing that forcing companies to create backdoors in encryption services like iMessage could “hurt law-abiding citizens.”

Apple also spent much of last year arguing against similar rulings in the United States. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales also called for Apple to “refuse to sell iPhone in [the] U.K. if [the] government bans end-to-end encryption.”