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Malcolm Turnbull Warned He's Risking National Security

Photo: Getty Images

Experts have warned the prime minister and senior government ministers their use of messaging service Whatsapp could pose a security risk.

Malcolm Turnbull and others, including chiefs of staff and media advisers, have been using the Facebook-owned application for confidential discussions instead of secure platforms, Fairfax Media reported on Thursday.

Cyber security experts have flagged issues with its use, noting it had not been approved by the country's cyber intelligence agency - the Australian Signals Directorate.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus called on Mr Turnbull and his cabinet to stop using WhatsApp immediately.

"They are treating security with contempt," he told ABC Radio on Thursday.

He suggested the app was being used to avoid any obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

Government minister Anne Ruston insisted WhatsApp was a simple communication tool and that no conversation she's had with Mr Turnbull or other ministers on it were of high security.

"I don't think there's any security risk associated with using it," she told reporters in Canberra.

Crossbench senators Nick Xenophon and David Leyonhjelm said they, too, have messaged the prime minister using various apps and have no issue with it.

"What do you want the prime minister to do, use smoke singles, telepathy?" Senator Xenophon said.

"I think WhatsApp is a reasonable form of communication and safer than others, but I'd like to think the prime minister is smart enough to realise he's not going to be giving any state secrets over anything that isn't sufficiently encrypted."

Cabinet minister Steve Ciobo said he uses the app but not for confidential cabinet discussions.

He claimed the report was a storm in a teacup.

"There are no classified discussions taking place on WhatsApp," he said.

AAP

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