Australia set to spy on WhatsApp messages with encryption law
08 December, 2018, 08:15 | Author: Regina Silva
The Australian government's cyber security adviser Alastair MacGibbon said on Wednesday that authorities had been able to intercept telephone communications lawfully for nearly 40 years, and needed new powers to keep pace with modern technology.
A controversial bill allowing spies and police to snoop on the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals was passed in Australia on Thursday, as tech giants warned of wide-ranging implications for global cybersecurity. Although the new law requires companies to provide technical assistance and access to target communications, it does not have any language that would require vendors to build backdoors in encryption systems.
But the main opposition Labor party said on Thursday the bill could undermine data security and jeopardise future information sharing with authorities in the United States.
The government said the new measures will help police and security agencies combat terror attacks and child sex crimes, the BBC reported.
This makes Australia the first Western nation to breach the last bastion of online privacy, namely encryption.
Under Australia's legislation, police can force companies to create a technical function that would give them access to encrypted messages without the user's knowledge. Amid protests from companies such as Facebook and Google, the government and main opposition struck a deal on Tuesday that should see the legislation passed by parliament this week.
As MPs filed out of Parliament House, Coalition members expressed their "disappointment", while Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese blasted the bill as "nonsense legislation" that the government "still hadn't got right".
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