Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants to have access to encrypted messages of tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and others “to assist the rule of law” even as he warned that encrypted messaging apps could be used by terrorists and criminals, the BBC reported.

Mr. Turnbull made a recent pitch to reporters about his interest in prying into encrypted messages but he seems instead to be reviving the alleged spy leaks by Edward Snowden, who is still in asylum in Russia after facing espionage charges in 2013 by the U.S. government.

Lancaster Online reported this week that "Edward Snowden's leaks still has NSA in damage-control mode."

Need to pry into encrypted messages

Encrypted messages are considered secure online messages that could not be easily intercepted by hackers, terrorists, and criminals. The encrypted messages cannot be handed over by messaging companies as they do not receive a legible copy.

WhatsApp, for one, uses end-to-end encryption, and its encrypted messages if ever they are intercepted are unreadable. Mr. Turnbull wanted for these encrypted messages be accessed by government spies, an action which could not possibly have any headway without earning a backlash on its citizens’ freedom of privacy.

There are fears from Australian authorities that this type of messaging has been used by terrorists and criminals.

Not seeking a 'backdoor'

Mr. Turnbull told journalists that he is not seeking a “backdoor” by the government into the systems of the tech companies but only wanted the encrypted messages to be accessed and understood like information processed offline.

He said that the access to encrypted messages would “assist the rule of the law” but tech experts are saying that giving into this would mean that criminals and terrorists could also use the same.

Turnbull's "backdoor" talks have revived government spy talks after Snowden exposed the U.S. government’s snooping activities while tech experts and legal communities favoring privacy are again bracing for repercussions as the Australian government presses to have access to encrypted messages.

Snowden, a former contractor for the CIA, leaked to the media the extensive surveillance activities by American intelligence in internet and phone companies in the U.S.

in June early June 2013.

He exposed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting telephone records of tens of millions of U.S. citizens. The Guardian newspaper published a secret court order favoring NSA for the telecommunications company Verizon to provide it with its telephone data on a daily basis.

Subsequent exposes of the Washington Post and the Guardian bared that the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google, like a backbone to monitor communications via a surveillance program named Prism.

But Prism was also cracked by a British electronic eavesdropping company named GCHQ. Snowden was later uncovered to be the one behind the leak. There was a widespread search for him until he was found to be already in Russia, where he was granted asylum.