Cybercrime is a growing threat as we exchange more and more
information online. Cybercrime has already overtaken the drug trade
worldwide as the most profitable form of all crimes due to the
opportunities that cybercriminals have to steal money, identities
and information from unsuspecting victims, causing it to become a
matter of national interest.
On 22 August, the Australian Senate passed the Cybercrime
Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 ("Bill")
which is aimed at strengthening Australia's cyber security
laws. The Bill sets the legislative framework to enable Australia
to join 34 other nations and ascend into the Council of Europe
Convention on Cybercrime, the only binding international treaty on
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says the Bill will "help
combat criminal offences relating to forgery, fraud, child
pornography and the infringement of copyright and intellectual
The Bill amends the Telecommunications (Interception and Access)
Act, the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, the Criminal
Code Act, and the Telecommunications Act.
The main changes include:
Preservation – allows law
enforcement agencies to compel telcos and ISPs to retain data
records of people suspected of cyberbased crimes, including fraud
and child pornography. Data records include web-browsing history,
social media activity, emails, and SMS messages. The law
enforcement agencies will be prevented from seeing the information
until they have secured a warrant.
Mutual assistance – provides foreign
countries access to Australian preserved computer data in the
investigation of cybercrime and crimes committed using the internet
pursuant to a stored communication warrant and vice versa.
Cybercrime offences – expands the
scope of existing Commonwealth computer offences and creates
confidentiality requirements in relation to authorisations to
disclose telecommunications data.
Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has raised concerns about
stored data being given to foreign countries for use in criminal
cases involving the death penalty.
In the amended Bill, the Senate addressed 12 of the 13
recommendations by the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. The
only recommendation that was not considered related to the removal
of the exemption of small internet service providers from the
Privacy Act. This will likely be addressed as part of the
government's second stage response to the Australian Law Reform
Commission's 2008 report on privacy.
The amended Bill will go back to the lower house for
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