Australia Set to Be First to Okay Law Enforcement’s Access to Encrypted Messages


In a globally unprecedented move, Australian authorities are lobbying for tech companies to be legally allowed to build back doors into apps for mobile devices and other products just months after similar calls by the Russian intelligence agency met a barrage of criticism from all around the world.

Australia’s government is working on world-first legislation that would force technology companies to help police comb through citizens’ encrypted messages in the course of investigation. According to Attorney-General Christian Porter, many of those involved in terrorist plots and high-profile organised crime use encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber.

In a deal clinched by Porter and his shadow, Mark Dreyfus, authorities have agreed to limit the aforementioned regulation to probe for ‘serious offences’, such as terrorism, child sex, drug and gun crimes. The opposition, meanwhile, has voiced concern that the laws sound too broad and want to restrict the powers to federal agencies, rather than state police. In wake of the Bourke Street attack in Melbourne last month, the coalition had been pressuring Labour to support the legislation before parliament meets for a final sitting before Christmas on Thursday.

“It appears the Government will agree to proposals by Labour that will ensure there is better oversight and limitation of the powers in this bill, and better safeguards against potential unintended…

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