Riana Pfefferkorn is a digital security expert and Cryptography Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. She says that we are living in the “Golden Age of Surveillance,” in which the growing ubiquity of data-rich smart devices has produced a fundamental tension between the rights of users to protect their personal data and the needs of law enforcement to investigate or prevent serious crimes.
She says draft legislation in Australia could have major privacy and security implications across the globe, including in the United States. If passed, the bill would require tech companies that do business in Australia to design their devices (such as smartphones) and communications services (such as encrypted messaging apps) to include digital backdoors allowing law enforcement to access data. The bill is raising concerns among privacy and computer security experts who argue that, in the wrong hands, such backdoors could lead to troubling breeches of personal privacy and data security.