Sun, Jun 10, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Australian team to defend elections from cyberattacks

PRECAUTIONARY MOVE:The task force was announced ahead of five by-elections, which are set to prove how popular Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is

Reuters, MELBOURNE

Australia has established a security task force to guard against cyberattacks and interference in elections, the government said yesterday, amid concerns foreign powers are meddling in domestic affairs and ahead of five elections next month.

The newly created Electoral Integrity Task Force would identify and address risks to Australia’s electoral process, an Australian Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said in an e-mail.

“This is a precautionary measure, which in the age of increasing levels of cyber-enabled interference and disruption, will need to become the norm,” the spokesperson said.

The G7 leaders meeting in Canada was expected to endorse measures to protect elections against foreign interference, according to a draft summit commitment.

The draft appeared to be a thinly veiled reference to allegations by the US and the governments of some EU countries that Russia interfered in their elections. Moscow has denied the allegations.

The Australian task force announcement comes only weeks before five federal by-elections, held to fill seats outside a general election, and amid concerns in Australia about Chinese interference in its political processes.

The by-elections are to test Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s popularity ahead of a national election due by late next year.

Ties between Australia and its major trading partner China have soured over moves by Canberra to stop perceived foreign interference.

Australia is expected to adopt legislation aimed at preventing foreign interference by the end of next month. China has formally complained about Turnbull citing Chinese influence as justification for the legislation.

The task force involves multiple agencies, including the Australian Department of Finance and the Department of Home Affairs.

The home affairs department said it would assist the Australian Electoral Commission with technical advice and expertise, the spokesperson said.

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