Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth has labelled the Australian Government\u2019s proposed legislation to give law enforcement agencies access to communications sent via encrypted services a \u201ccrazy idea\u201d.\n\u201cThe Australian Government wants to build what they call a back door into end-to-end encryption. And the result would be, basically its weakening end to end encryption, it\u2019s not just the government that will snoop, its hackers, its bad guys, it\u2019s the Chinese and Russian governments, so this is a crazy idea,\u201d Roth told the audience on ABC\u2019s QA programme last night.\n \n\u201cYou can\u2019t weaken end to end encryption; weaken our privacy protections for just law enforcement purposes without weakening your privacy protections for everything you do. You don\u2019t want to go there,\u201d he added.\n \nMinisters of Communications and the Arts MitchellFifield, appearing alongside Roth on the panel, repeated the government\u2019s stock-line regarding their encryption crackdown: \u201cWe\u2019re not looking for a back door into people\u2019s encrypted communications.\u201d\nHuman Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth and Minister of Communications Mitch Fifield on QandA\nThe government is preparing tounveil legislationthat it says will boost the ability of law enforcement agencies to access to communications sent using encrypted services.\nIt has not yet revealed any detail about how the proposed legislation will function and is yet to spell out how any new laws would deal with end-to-end encryption.\n\u201cThe ordinary rules of the land, the ordinary laws of the land apply in the online space. If police have concern that someone is going to undertake an illegal activity, they can seek a warrant they can seek a phone tap to try and intercept the phone message. It shouldn\u2019t be any different if you\u2019re talking about a different sort of technology,\u201d Fifield said last night.\n \nExcept it is. As Roth pointed out.\n \n\u201cOf course the police can always seek a warrant,\u201d Roth retorted. \u201cAnd if you go to a company that allows end to end encryption their answer will be: we can\u2019t get in there, end to end encryption means we don\u2019t have access to that communication.\u201d\n \nEnd-to-end encryption services are intended \u2013 barring design or implementation flaws \u2013 to resist decryption by both the service providers and third parties.\n \n\u201cWhat the government wants to do is to change that. They want to make it so when you seek a warrant the company says \u2013 oh yeah we can use our special on the side technique to get in there \u2013 that\u2019s a backdoor,\u201d Roth said.\n \n\u201cThey don\u2019t like to use the term backdoor, they want to weaken our privacy protections. And it\u2019s not just going to be for law enforcement, it\u2019s going to be for every bad guy who wants your data.\u201d\n \nGrahame Morris, who was also on the panel, said Apple was \u201creally really anxious and toey\u201d about the government\u2019s proposed changes.\n \nMorris is federal director of Barton Deakin Government Relations, which counts Apple among its clients.\n \nIn February, Digital Industry Group Incorporated (DIGI) \u2013 a group whose members include Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oath and Twitter \u2013 urged caution over any regulatory moves by the government that could compromise the effectiveness of encryption.\n \n\u201cThe only way you can break encryption \u2013 Apple can\u2019t do it, nobody can do it at the moment \u2013 is that you put a little key in there so that Apple or somebody can do it and the police can ask for it,\u201d Morris said. \n\u201cBut the minute you build in that backdoor key, every lunatic in the world is going to be trying to get the Apple key, and your privacy will be stuffed,\u201d he added.