Prime Minister Urges Parliament To Pass Encryption Law
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists police need immediate access to encrypted messages to stop future terror attacks.
The prime minister says new laws giving police access to the messages must pass federal parliament in the final sitting fortnight of the year, after three men charged with plotting a terror attack in Melbourne were accused of using encrypted communications.
"Our police, our agencies need these powers now," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
"I would insist on seeing them passed before the end of the next sitting fortnight."
He said the foiled Melbourne plot showed it was incredibly important for authorities to have powers to intercept encrypted messages on apps like WhatsApp.
Mr Morrison urged the committee examining the laws to wind-up its review as soon as possible so the laws can be passed.
The Liberal-chaired committee has scheduled three public hearings on the bill, with the final one set for December 4 -- two days before parliament rises for the year.
To pass the encryption legislation before then, the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security would likely have to bring forward or abandon the hearings.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Labor wanted to continue its bipartisan approach to national security.
"The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is an important bipartisan institution which makes recommendations for improvements to national security bills, often making them stronger and more effective," Mr Dreyfus said.
"We're backing that process."
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said speeding up the process would not jeopardise a chance to improve the bill.
He said the heads of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and Australian Federal Police had already given evidence to the committee.
"The evidence there is overwhelming that we need this change. We cannot have pedophiles or terrorists using encrypted messaging apps," Mr Dutton said.
The minister said pedophiles were directing sex scenes through the messaging apps, which were also used by terrorists.
Internet Australia chair Paul Brooks said the legislation would have major consequences for millions of Australians' confidential data.
"Therefore, it is crucial that lawmakers give the bill serious consideration and work with stakeholders to fix its well-documented flaws," Mr Brooks said.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the potential effects of the legislation extended well beyond multinational tech companies.