U.S. Markets close in 1 min

Government to Change Legislation, Forcing Tech Companies to Assist in Surveillance

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis spoke at the Australian Federal Police headquarters on Friday, July 14, announcing new legislation that will force tech companies to cooperate in security investigations.

Turnbull said: “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. The Australian Federal Police must have the powers, as do all our other intelligence, and law enforcement agencies, to enforce the law online, as well as offline.”

“We expect the rule of law to apply online as well as offline.”

Turnbull said encryption technology made policing difficult, meaning the messages could be intercepted but “can’t be read, can’t be interpreted, other than with considerable difficulty.”

“The brilliant tech companies in Silicon Valley and their emulators, bring their brilliance to bear, to assist the rule of law. To enable us to be able, not through back-doors or any untoward means, but legislate appropriately with the force of law, in the usual way that applies in the offline world, enable our law enforcement agencies to have access to these communications so that they can keep us safe.

“We are already leading the way here in Australia with new legislative priorities that will ensure that internet companies, like the telcos at the moment, will have the obligation to assist the police with getting access to communications and information and data that they are lawfully entitled to, in accordance with an appropriate warrant or court order – and also, to give the Australian Federal Police the ability that ASIO currently has, to remotely, again in accordance with a lawful order, to remotely monitor computer networks and devices.”

Turnbull said the companies need to “face up to their responsibility” and assist in security and law enforcement, naming WhatsApp and Telegram as two platforms of interest.

He said 90 per cent of ASIO investigations were now hampered by encryption.

The legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament later in the year. Credit: The PMO via Storyful