External Affairs

Australia to Push for Broader Powers on Encrypted Messaging to Tackle Terrorism

Australia has made it clear it wants tech companies to cooperate much more and will push for more powers at the meeting of ministers from the “Five Eyes” intelligence network.

FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) and Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis stand together during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, November 29, 2016. Credit: Reuters/AAP/Lukas Coch

Sydney: Australia said on Sunday it will push for greater powers to tackle the use of encrypted messaging services used by terrorists and criminals at an upcoming meeting of ministers from the “Five Eyes” intelligence network.

The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, will meet in the Canadian city of Ottawa next week, where they will discuss tactics to combat terrorism and border protection, two senior Australian ministers said.

Australia has made it clear it wants tech companies to do much more to give intelligence and law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications.

“I will raise the need to address ongoing challenges posed by terrorists and criminals using encryption,” Australian Attorney General Senator Brandis said in a joint statement.

“These discussions will focus on the need to cooperate with service providers to ensure reasonable assistance is provided to law enforcement and security agencies.”

Tech firms such as Apple and Facebook, which owns encrypted messaging service Whatsapp, have been criticized in the United Kingdom and United States for not doing enough to crackdown on so-called dark spaces where extremists can communicate.

Industry involvement in thwarting the encryption of terrorist messaging will be a priority for Australia at the gathering, Senator Brandis said.

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