Australia mulls spying on email

Bosses will be able to spy on workers' emails without consent under new anti-terror laws being considered in Australia, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, quoted by an AFP report, said.

The AFP report said the proposal is being flagged by the government to prevent a cyber attack on critical national infrastructure such as the stock exchange, electricity grid or transport system.

'We want to make sure that they are safe from terrorist attack,' Gillard was quoted by the AFP report as saying. 'Part of doing that is making sure we've got the right powers to ensure that we can tell if there's something unusual going on in the system.'

The suggestion has angered civil libertarians, who say the proposal could be abused, the report added.

'Our concern is, that if given these powers, they're more likely to be used for eavesdropping and corporate witch hunts rather than protecting Australia from some kind of cyber attack,' Dale Clapperton, chair of the independent internet rights watchdog Electronic Frontiers Australia, told ABC radio.

Gillard defended the proposal, saying it was designed to ensure Australian companies were safe from a terrorist attack.

The Telecommunications (Interceptions) Act currently only allows for workers' emails to be monitored by security agencies.