Australia to introduce laws over terror-related encrypted messages

Canberra, July 14 (IANS) The Australian government said on Friday that it will introduce new laws requiring internet giants such as Google and Facebook to hand over and decrypt messages from suspected terrorists and criminals.

Similar to Britain’s Investigatory Powers Act which requires companies to comply with investigations, the new laws are set to be introduced into Parliament when sitting resumes next month, reports Xinhua news agency.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday that world leaders agreed at last week’s G20 meetings in Hamburg, Germany, that more needed to be done to stop terrorists and criminals from communicating freely online.

Speaking at a media conference, Turnbull said Australia’s laws needed to apply “online as well as offline”.

“We need to ensure that the internet is not used as a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law, and the AFP (Australian Federal Police) must have the powers, as do the other intelligence agencies to enforce the law online as well as offline,” Turnbull said.

“Increasingly, communications across the net, whether it’s messaging or voice applications, are encrypted end-to-end. So while they can be intercepted, they cannot be read.

“We want to ensure the brilliant tech companies bring their brilliance to assist the rule of law. Not through ‘back doors’, but through legitimate ways so they can keep us safe,” he said.

“These are vitally important reforms designed to keep Australians safe.”

Earlier on Friday, speaking on the Nine Network, the coalition government’s Leader of the House and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the government does not expect any resistance from the industry giants, considering the potential implications involved in letting terrorists go unchecked.

–IANS

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