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Australia passes bill to force tech firms to hand over encrypted data


SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s parliament on Thursday passed a bill to force tech firms such as Alphabet Inc’s Google ( GOOGL.O ), Facebook FB.N and Apple ( AAPL.O ) to give police access to encrypted data, the most far-reaching such requirements imposed by a western country.


The bill, staunchly opposed by the tech giants which fear Australia could be an example as other nations explore similar rules, is set to become law before the end of the year.


“Let’s just make Australians safe over Christmas,” opposition Labor party leader Bill Shorten told reporters outside parliament in the capital of Canberra.


The Five Eyes intelligence network, comprised of the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, have each warned that national security was at risk because authorities were unable to monitor the communications of suspects.


Technology companies have opposed efforts to create what they see as a back door to users’ data, a stand-off that was propelled into the public arena by Apple’s refusal to unlock an iPhone used by an attacker in a 2015 shooting in California.


“Several critical issues remain unaddressed in this legislation, most significantly the prospect of introducing systemic weaknesses that could put Australians’ data security at risk,” it said.






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