Australia wants tech giants 
to share encrypted messages

This article is more than 12 months old

SYDNEY: Australia yesterday proposed new laws to compel companies such as Facebook and Apple to provide security agencies access to encrypted messages.

The measures will be the first in an expected wave of global legislation as pressure mounts on technology companies to provide such access after several terror suspects used encrypted applications ahead of attacks.


Australia, a staunch US ally, is on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014 and authorities have said they have thwarted several plots, although Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said law enforcement needed more help.

"We need to ensure the Internet is not used as a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law," said Mr Turnbull.

"The reality is, however, that these encrypted messaging applications and voice applications are being used obviously by all of us, but they're also being used by people who seek to do us harm."

Australia's proposal will require manufacturers and technology companies to help its law enforcement agencies intercept and read messages sent by suspects.

The proposal, to be introduced when parliament resumes next month, could be adopted within months, lawmakers have said.

But the plan sets the scene for a clash between Australia's government and some of the world's biggest technology companies.

Apple, which declined a request by Reuters to comment on the proposal, has previously resisted sharing such information, citing privacy concerns.

A Facebook spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment. - REUTERS

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