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New Australia Bill Gives Police Power to Spy on WhatsApp Messages

The spying powers are limited to only "serious offences" such as preventing terrorism and tackling organised crime in Australia, dailymail.co.uk reported

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WhatsApp's moderators should have been able to find these groups and put a stop to them

Australia is mulling a strict law that gives enforcement agencies power to track messages on platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram that offer end-to-end encryption and also to force users to open their smartphones when demanded, a media report said.

The controversial encryption bill comes at a time amid allegations of encrypted platforms facilitating spread of rumours, hate speech and even criminal activities like child trafficking and drugs businesses.

In countries like India messages circulated in WhatsApp have been linked to several lynching cases, forcing the government to ask platform to take suitable preventive action.

But the new Australia bill also raises privacy concerns as under the proposed legislation, the Australian government agencies could compel companies to build spyware.

The proposed laws could force companies to remove electronic protections, assist government agencies in accessing material from a suspect’s device, and in getting technical information such as design specifications to help in an investigation, News.com.au reported on Wednesday.

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Critics have slammed the bill for being broad in scope, vague and potentially damaging to the security of the global digital economy, the report said, adding that a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has been scrutinising the bill.

The laws will help security agencies nab terrorists, child sex offenders and other serious criminals, Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter was quoted as saying.

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About 95 per cent of people currently being surveilled by security agencies are using encrypted messages, he added.

The spying powers are limited to only “serious offences” such as preventing terrorism and tackling organised crime in Australia, dailymail.co.uk reported. (IANS)

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WhatsApp Decides to Take Legal Actions Against its Term Violaters

The platform said it was able to assess the past dealings with problematic behaviours to ban 20 per cent of bad accounts at the time of registration itself

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FILE - The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

To improve the health of its platform, Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp has decided to take legal actions against those who are exploiting the platform by ways of unauthorised usage of the app, that has over 1.5 billion users.

“Beginning on December 7, WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform,” the company wrote in a post on Wednesday.

The company said WhatsApp is not intended to circulate bulk or automated messaging, both of which have always been a violation of their Terms of Service.

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

“WhatsApp was designed for private messaging, so we have taken action globally to prevent bulk messaging and enforce limits on how WhatsApp accounts that misuse WhatsApp can be used. We have also stepped up our ability to identify abuse, which helps us ban 2 million accounts globally per month,” TechCrunch reported a WhatsApp spokesperson as saying.

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Earlier this year, the platform said that it had built a Machine Learning (ML)-based system to detect and remove users who behaved inappropriately on the app.

The platform said it was able to assess the past dealings with problematic behaviours to ban 20 per cent of bad accounts at the time of registration itself, the report added. (IANS)