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Still concerns with encryption invoice: Labor

Federal Labor helped pass encryption legislation before the Christmas break, but Bill Shorten says he remains concerned about the controversial laws.

The laws cleared the Senate on Thursday, after Labor agreed to pass them at the last minute.

Mr Shorten concedes the bill was rushed, but is confident the amendments will go through when parliament resumes in February.

“There are legitimate concerns about the encryption legislation,” the opposition leader told reporters on Friday.

“But I wasn’t prepared to walk away from my job and leave matters in a stand-off and expose Australians to increased risk in terms of national security.”

Attorney-General Christian Porter believes Australia is a safer place because of the laws that will now force tech companies to help authorities snoop on encrypted messages.

“This ensures that our national security and law enforcement agencies have the modern tools they need, with appropriate authority and oversight, to access the encrypted conversations of those who seek to do us harm,” he said.

Labor agreed to drop amendments it had wanted to make due to national security concerns around terror threats over the holidays.

Labor said its support was contingent on the government amending the new laws in February.

Government senate leader Mathias Cormann said the coalition supports in principle all of the amendments

“The focus yesterday was to secure the very important encryption laws, unamended, through the senate, and it was mission accomplished,” he told Sky News on Friday.

The Law Council of Australia said serious concerns remain about the laws, which it believes have been rushed and politicised.

“We now have a situation where unprecedented powers to access encrypted communications are now law, even though parliament knows serious problems exist,” president Morry Bailes said.

The Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security made 17 recommendations, covering components of the bill that had been agreed on by the coalition and Labor.

Mr Bailes said the committee should also be involved in helping to get these laws right next year

“The committee can ensure there are no unintended consequences, which could be to the detriment of us all.”

The laws require tech companies to help police and intelligence agencies see encrypted messages, which experts say will mean encryption will be broken.

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