Proposed Australian law forces tech companies to decrypt customer messages

Proposed Australian law forces tech companies to decrypt customer messages

The Australian government on Friday proposed a set of new cybersecurity measures that would compel technology companies like Apple to provide law enforcement agencies access to encrypted customer messages.

Looking to combat a global rise in terror attacks, which in some cases were planned and carried out with the help of encrypted messaging apps and services, Australia will in November propose a law that grants courts power to compel tech companies to decrypt communications, the Associated Press reports.

Currently, Australian law requires telephone companies to aid in law enforcement operations by providing access to communications when obliged to do so via court order. According to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the new law places the same requirements on tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google, which market messaging services with end-to-end encryption.

“We’ve got a real problem in that the law enforcement agencies are increasingly unable to find out what terrorists and drug traffickers and pedophile rings are up to because of the very high levels of encryption,” Turnbull said in a statement to reporters. “Where we can compel it, we will, but we will need the cooperation from the tech companies.”

Similar laws are enforced across the Western world, but Australia’s proposal seems more aggressive than U.S. legislation. The Australian government agrees, saying the new law would be modeled after the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act recently passed by the British Parliament in November.

Dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter,” the act furnishes government agencies wide latitude with which to eavesdrop on suspected criminals….

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