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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.

Also Read- Rahul Gandhi Accuses Narendra Modi of Questioning Patel’s Vision

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 Launches 2nd Leg of ‘Share Joy, Not Rumours’ Education Campaign to Fight Fake News

The first phase of the campaign successfully reached hundreds of millions Indians in both rural and urban areas

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WhatsApp has made a series of changes, including labeling forwarded messages to inform users when they have received something not from their immediate contacts. Pixabay

Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Monday launched the second-leg of its “Share Joy, Not Rumours” education campaign to encourage the responsible use of its platform ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

In addition to the earlier TV, print and radio ads, the new campaign would educate people on the controls available in WhatsApp so they are empowered to stop the spread of misinformation, the company said in a statement.

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The new campaign would educate people on the controls available in WhatsApp so they are empowered to stop the spread of misinformation. Pixabay

The first phase of the campaign successfully reached hundreds of millions Indians in both rural and urban areas, claimed the company, adding that the messaging platform is building on the campaign with a second round focused on supporting a safe election process.

“Proactively working with the Election Committee and local partners for a safe election is our top priority. Expanding our education campaign to help people easily identify and stop malicious messages is another step towards improving the safety of our users,” said Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp.

WhatsApp’s digital literacy partners, including DEF and NASSCOM, would share these videos to grow awareness among the people while the print ads are aimed to act as reminders on how to spot, verify and stop sharing of misinformation that can cause harmful outcomes during the sensitive period of polling.

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The first phase of the campaign successfully reached hundreds of millions Indians in both rural and urban areas. Pixabay

ALSO READ: Whatsapp will Now Let Users Know How Many Times a Message has been Forwarded

Over the last several months, WhatsApp has made a series of changes, including labeling forwarded messages to inform users when they have received something not from their immediate contacts and set a limit on how forwarded messages can be sent. In addition, WhatsApp bans accounts that engage in unwanted automated activity.

WhatsApp, including other social media firms, will now have to process any request from the Election Commission of India to take down content within three hours during the 48-hour period before voting days. (IANS)