CANBERRA: Australia’s spies have expressed frustration at technology companies that encrypt their messaging and communications systems, calling on them to stop the practice.

The head of ASIO, Mike Burgess, pictured, says it’s a matter of fact that intelligence agencies bug homes and cars, so why not cyberspace?

Fair question, except those technology companies, like Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. aren’t playing the game.

Burgess told the Institute of Public Administration that, because they’re not co-operating, proponents of encryption technologies are acting outside existing social norms.

Burgess said private conversations are actually a good thing, but … “the real challenge comes when you have a lawful need.” He means, when intelligence agencies want to bug your phone.

The problem with Burgess’s argument is that it comes directly out of the pages of the Peter Dutton playbook. The Home Affairs Minister has referred to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg as morally bankrupt, along with other social media platforms, blaming them for an increase in child exploitation.

Burgess is not a happy bunny, especially as, instead of listening to his and other spy bosses’ pleas for a social media more open to scrutiny, the platforms are instead fortifying their communications encryption.

The ASIO boss‘s speech is certain to draw the ire of Australia’s technology community, who already railed at the government’s Assistance and Access Act, more commonly known as the Encryption Act. 

The Act compels public servants to help investigators access encrypted data, but it can’t be working too well so far, judging by Burgess’ frustrated tones. – Chris Castellari