The Assistance and Access Bill, or TOLA (Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment), is back on the agenda. After the debacle that occurred on the last day of parliament in 2018, it is up to parliament to fix the bad legislation they passed in such a hurry. The first question should be was the rush justified? We’ve seen reports of the legislation being used for what appear to be criminal cases, but there has been no news of terror cells being busted – yet if you were to believe the rhetoric from some politicians last December there was an imminent danger that needed to be addressed.
The recent news of Cambridge Analytica’s alleged usage of facebook data should act as wake-up call to us all. It may seem like the amount of data in question is large, the number of individuals certainly seems to be, however, when taken in the context of wider data collection it is just the tip of the iceberg. We are increasingly leaving ever more detailed digital footprints, it’s not just the data we choose to share; every aspect our digital lives is monitored, recorded, and profiled in excruciating detail. From what websites we visit, to what we buy, the music we listen to, through to the people we know. It is all used to build an in-depth profile of who we are and what we can be influenced by.
The public are largely unaware of the losing battle security researchers have been fighting against western governments for the last 30 years. Ever since the creation of modern cryptography, western governments have sought to undermine and outlaw its use and distribution. The tactics have ranged from subverting standards, in order to require short keys sizes (GSM, DES), banning the export and publication of cryptographic algorithms (PGP ), and more recently creating back-doored cryptographic components (DRBG).
Back in 2013/2014 I was working on vVote Verifiable Voting System, which involved implementing a number of threshold cryptographic protocols. At the time there was very little by way of examples or frameworks to learn/play with threshold crypto. Recently I had some time available to take what I had learnt over those years, and since, and put together a library of threshold cryptographic protocols. The library is open source and written in Java. It is not intended as a commercial use library, more something for those interested in threshold cryptography, and fellow academics, to play around with.