Australia passes controversial bill forcing tech companies to hand over encrypted data

Australia’s parliament on Thursday passed a bill to force tech firms such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook and Apple to give police access to encrypted data, the most far-reaching such requirements imposed by a western country. The bill, passed by the lower house of parliament earlier on Thursday, was to be debated in the upper Senate, where Labor said it intended to suggest new amendments, before going back to the lower house. In an eleventh-hour twist, Labor said that despite its reservations, it would pass the bill in the Senate, on the proviso that the coalition agreed to its amendments next year. When it becomes law, Australia will be one of the first nations to impose broad access requirements on technology firms, after many years of lobbying by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in many countries, particularly the so-called Five Eyes nations. Earlier on Thursday, a Facebook spokesman directed Reuters to a statement made by the Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI), of which Facebook as well as Apple, Google, Amazon and Twitter, are members.

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