The Austrian cabinet on Wednesday agreed to a new security package giving the government greater monitoring and surveillance powers, local media reported.
This will include increased video and audio surveillance of public areas and on roads, the capacity to monitor internet communications even when encrypted, the compulsory registration of prepaid mobile phone sim cards, as well as changes to data retention laws.
Notable is the planned use of government spying software to monitor communications through programs such as WhatsApp and Skype, which will be installed remotely in cases of suspicion of terrorist activity and other serious crimes.
The law regulating the capacity of the government to check on letters and parcels is also to be eased, reports said, with the government citing a wish to crackdown on the Darknet trade as the main reason.
The security package is to last for five years, and will be reviewed after three.
The conservative People’s Party had wished to implement many of the changes in the previous legislative period, though ran into opposition in coalition partner the Social Democrats. With new coalition partner the Freedom Party, however, progress has now been made possible.
Representatives from both parties argued that the increased monitoring powers do not equate to a kind of mass surveillance.