Laws of mathematics don’t apply to Australia: Malcolm Turnbull

16 July 2017 12:40 pm

The laws of mathematics state there are problems breaking end to end encryption. As Pursuit points out, modern encryption uses maths.

How so? Well, there’s an algorithm on your computer that transforms your message into a sequence of ones and zeros that’s meaningless except to a reader who knows the secret key that can transform it back, or decrypt it. The best-known encryption algorithm is RSA. It works on the most basic mathematical foundation - the fact that it’s easy to multiply but hard to factorise. To generate an RSA key you choose two random, very large prime numbers (hundreds of digits long), then you multiply them together and publish the result. You keep the prime factors secret - this is your decryption key. If you choose large enough primes, it’s just too hard to run enough computation to extract them and decrypt your message.

Malcolm Turnbull however sees it differently.

On Friday, the government unveiled plans to introduce legislation this year forcing internet companies to assist law enforcement in decrypting messages sent with end-to-end encryption.

The package will also contain authority for the Australian Federal Police to "remotely monitor computer networks and devices", a power currently possessed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and force handset makers to help authorities break into devices they sell.

"The laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that," Malcolm Turbull said on Friday. "The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia."

The Prime Minister’s lack of insight into the laws of mathematics stunned the experts.

“What he seems to be saying is he wants access to messaging systems that are end-to-end encrypted,” Dr Vanessa Teague, from Melbourne University's School of Computing and Information Systems told HuffPost Australia.

"The mathematical opportunity to do that is not available."

Then again, the Turnbull government’s #waronmaths makes sense,

Take a look at the way the government slashed university funding in the Budget.

And the Prime Minister is absolutely correct in saying the laws of mathematics don’t apply to Australia. Take a look at his budget.

And take a look at the way gross govt debt is now at $504.679 billion. That’s up more than $226 billion since the 2013 election.

Yep, the Turnbull government's war on science and mathematics makes sense.