New Australia Bill Gives Police Power to Spy on WhatsApp Messages

Last Updated: Dec 06 2018 13:04

CANBERRA: Australia is set to give its police and intelligence agencies the power to access encrypted messages on platforms such as WhatsApp, becoming the latest country to face down privacy concerns in the name of public safety.

A media report said Australia is mulling a strict law that gives enforcement agencies power to track messages on platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram that offer end-to-end encryption and also to force users to open their smartphones when demanded.

In countries like India, messages circulated in WhatsApp have been linked to several lynching cases, forcing the government to ask platform to take suitable preventive action.

But the new Australia bill also raises privacy concerns as, under the proposed legislation, the Australian government agencies could compel companies to build spyware.

Sources reported that the proposed laws could force companies to remove electronic protections, assist government agencies in accessing material from a suspect’s device, and in getting technical information such as design specifications to help in an investigation.

The report said, Critics have slammed the bill for being broad in scope, vague and potentially damaging to the security of the global digital economy.

Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter was quoted as saying; the laws will help security agencies nab terrorists, child sex offenders, and other serious criminals.

He added, About 95 percent of people currently being surveilled by security agencies are using encrypted messages.