Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
The most significant report to date on options for development of an Australian cryptography policy, Review of policy relating to encryption technologies, was completed in December 1996 by Gerard Walsh, a consultant to the Security, Law and Justice Branch of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, and former deputy director of the Australian Securities Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), after a six-month study (see < 3 PLPR 54> for background).
On 7 February, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) contacted the Attorney-General's Department Security Division to order a copy, but a spokesman said that the Walsh report's release had been delayed and he could not comment on when it would be released. He said that Australian Government policy was `likely to be overtaken by the OECD guidelines anyway' (the OECD guidelines are due for release in the near future -- see < 3 PLPR 126>). He noted that if the Walsh report is released there will be about three months allowed for comment, despite a mid-February date being shown on the AGPS listing.
Later that morning, the report summary on AGPS suddenly disappeared (both the /cis/52454.htm page and the /cis/ directory), with no explanation left on the site. However, PLPR has obtained copies of the web page, and its contents are reprinted on p 183.
As one of the many people interviewed by Mr Walsh last year when he was preparing the report, it would not surprise me if his report was a very thoughtful response which did not readily accept overstatements of either the dangers of encryption or the capacity of interception as the best means to deal with real dangers, or too easily accept the `solutions' being peddled by Australia's allies, particularly the US. If so, its suppression is easy to understand.
Who is responsible for encouraging public debate on these issues? The Privacy Commissioner's office (which says it is aware of the report), when asked whether the Commissioner had recommended that the report be made public, said that it could not comment at that stage. Has the Commissioner made any recommendation?
You can now obtain Barrett, but not yet Walsh.
Graham Greenleaf, General Editor.