Today we’re splashing the red ink, as it were, for this candid, bona fide, honest and exclusive interview on cybersecurity with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. NB: Quotes, the names of people giving the quotes, and many of the core and peripheral details have been changed — and, indeed, whole paragraphs fabricated — for reasons of cybersecurity and of mainstream media-related peer pressure:
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will urge Donald Trump to demand that American tech companies make everyone in the online world less safe, while not having any impact on terrorism.
Turnbull will join the leaders of Britain and Germany in a display of national security theatre at this week’s G20 summit. “This whole issue is a massive one,” he said exclusively. “We need to dramatically weaken internet security, to make sure that the world’s worst online actors — organised crime, Russia, China, pedophile rings, terrorists — can get access to any encrypted system.”
In this exclusive interview, Turnbull dismissed critics who pointed out every single terrorist in the West was already known to security agencies well before they acted, instead insisting that making sure no one could email, text, do their banking, engage in e-commerce, play an online game or share information without being vulnerable to attack was crucial to stopping terrorism.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
“As we’ve seen in the most recent wave of ransomware attacks,” Turnbull told us exclusively, “which originated in software acquired by the National Security Agency, governments are highly effective at developing and giving decryption tools to organised crime to break into commonly used IT systems. We want to extend that to everything on the internet.”
Security agencies backed the Prime Minister’s push to raise cyber. “There used to be a mistaken view that we could have decryption and backdoor access that magically only worked if they were used by Five Eyes agencies and their allies, and that we could keep that secure,” a senior intelligence agency official said. “Fortunately, we now understand that that’s false — what we have to do is make it impossible for anyone to use the internet safely — including ourselves — by getting access to encrypted communications and distributing them to anyone who wants to use them.”
Turnbull noted — exclusively — that terrorist groups had already developed their own encrypted communications systems to prevent counter-terror agencies from gaining access. “But that’s not the point — the point is to pretend to be doing something about terrorism. And making everyone on the internet is vulnerable to hacking is a small price to pay for the political benefits of being seen to be tough.”
“Look at both Tony Abbott and myself — portraying ourselves as tough on terror has worked wonders for our electoral popularity.”
The push to ensure no one can use the internet safely would necessitate a series of news law, the Prime Minister explained in an exclusive interview. “We’ll have to ban IT companies from developing any new encryption software, and ban hardware manufacturers from allowing it on their devices. We’ll also have to prevent access to open-source software so people don’t develop their own encryption, and prevent any encryption research from being conducted in our countries. We think it’s very workable and fits well with our focus on agility, innovation and start-ups in the burgeoning tech sector.”
Turnbull, speaking exclusively, noted that, as a former investment banker, he was particularly looking forward to organised crime and malicious state actors attacking the world’s financial systems using decryption methods. “Encryption is used everywhere online. That’s the beauty of it. And we’re determined to make everyone — every internet user, every business that operates online — less safe.”
Finally, did we mention this was an exclusive?