Still from video game Fortnite. Picture: Supplied
Still from video game Fortnite. Picture: Supplied

Fortnite, Call of Duty to be tracked

TELCOS and tech companies will be forced to help Australia's spooks and top cops track terrorists on their phones, find out what new apps pedophiles are using and hand over messages criminals exchange on popular games like Fortnite and Call of Duty.

But the Turnbull Government has stepped back from previous talk of forcing tech giants to break private encrypted messages, such those as used by WhatsApp.

It is part of a hi-tech cybersecurity crackdown to stop criminals hiding behind new technology to conduct their nefarious business.

Still from video game Fortnite. Picture: Supplied
Still from video game Fortnite. Picture: Supplied

Pedophiles and terrorists are increasingly using newly released apps - particularly games with chat functions - to plot as a way of dodging police.

While existing laws require major telcos to assist police and spy agencies with wire taps and GPS tracking, new legislation will mean smaller players, tech and internet companies, and even game developers will have to help out.

Currently, this can only be done with the goodwill of the tech providers, while the new laws will force them to comply if a warrant is issued. Tech companies could face fines of up to $10 million if they do not.

Developers could even be ask to create new capacity within their program to allow law enforcement agencies to access chat messages or track a phone. Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor said up to 90 per cent of communications intercepted by the Australian Federal Police were encrypted, impacting about 200 crime and terror related cases in the past 12 months.

Police will also be given more time to remotely monitor a suspected criminal's phone or computer and for the first time be able to open and copy files, instead of just watching.

The warrants to allow the surveillance would be limited to crimes subject to penalties of three years' jail or more, and are targeted at terrorism, child sex offences and organised crime.

The new legislation will go out for consultation with the public and be introduced to the Parliament later this year.