Australian police seek the right to install malware on home devices during “emergencies”

Boing Boing – by Cory Doctorow

The Queensland Police have asked the Australian Parliament to give them the right to covertly install malicious software on your home devices in order to conduct mass surveillance during times of “national emergency”

The plan neatly demonstrates the ignorance and indifference of law enforcement to the realities of information security and civil liberties. Australia has emerged as a world leader in bad information policy, seeking a worldwide ban on working cryptography, with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insisting that “The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.” 

The disproportionality of hijacking every device in everyone’s home to listen in on all their conversations to find one bad guy should be obvious, but there’s another, even more urgent dimension to this.

For the cops to be able to install malware in your fridge, thermostat, CCTV, smart toilet, pacemaker, seismic damper and nannycam, there needs to be some kind of backdoor (or at least an unpatched defect) in the software on those devices.

These defects present an opportunity for criminals, foreign spies, industrial espionage, griefers and voyeurs to attack every person who is required to have them in their systems. In other words: this doesn’t protect Australia from terrorists: it makes them horribly vulnerable to terrorists and every other species of bad guy we can imagine.

“It is not outside the realm that, if you think about the connected home that we now look at quite regularly where people have their security systems, their CCTV systems and their computerised refrigerator all hooked up wirelessly, you could actually turn someone’s fridge into a listening device,” Mr Stewart said.

“This is the type of challenge that law enforcement is facing in trying to keep pace with events and premises where terrorists may be planning, they may be gathering to discuss deployment in a tactical way and they may be building devices in that place.

“All of that is taken into account by these new proposed laws.”

Queensland police say fridges could be turned into listening devices [Felicity Caldwell/Brisbane Times]

Boing Boing

2 thoughts on “Australian police seek the right to install malware on home devices during “emergencies”

  1. I already operate under the assumption that governments intend to spy on everyone all the time through Internet-connected devices.

    Since I value my privacy, I minimize the number of such devices in my possession (i.e., only my laptop and my phone), and I maintain vigilance even when using those.

  2. The war on terror is a war were opponent & proponent are on the same side. War is a racket, whether it’s military vs military, military vs its own people. War is about making huge profits for multi-national corporations, banksters & (sadly) power crazed bureaucrats alike. Military vs the public is what it’s shaping up to be for the so called ‘Lucky Country’, Freemasonry saw to that, the Vatican gave it her blessings & multi-national corporations control ‘governance’ to maximize their profits. When it comes to surveillance, there’s no luck in it for the government. It’s ‘governance’ that’s designed to create chaos. In Australia politicians collectively show no allegiance to the public in anything other than to manipulate & steal from it, us, “we the people”, but Have You Met Your Strawman?
    Oh & yes, what I meant to write was, the police & the military have turned on the people & or are training in suburban warfare to go against whom? Military enemies & their lookalikes are suppose to be outside Australia’s borders. You guys are suppose to be on our side, protecting us, not targeting. We pay taxes for you to service the public as a public servant should. We, the public, don’t want a bunch of ‘hooligan masterminds’ selling our elected officials ‘up the river’.

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