Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 introduced into Parliament today

June 22, 2011 |

The Attorney General introduced the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill today. His press release gives a good precis of its contents stating:

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Government’s Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 sets the legislative framework to enable Australia’s accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime – the only binding international treaty on cybercrime.

The Convention provides systems to facilitate international co-operation between signatory countries, as well as establishing procedures to make investigations more efficient, including:

  • empowering authorities to request the preservation of specific communications (with access subject to a warrant in Australia);
  • helping authorities from one country to collect data in another country;
  • establishing a 24/7 network to provide immediate help to investigators; and
  • facilitating the exchange of information between countries.

To date, over 40 nations have either signed or become a party to the Convention, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and South Africa.  Over 100 nations are also using the Convention as the basis to strengthen their legislation to combat the threat of cybercrime. The Government’s Bill makes three key changes:

  1. Preservation – enabling agencies to request the preservation of communications by a carrier that they intend to seek a warrant over;
  2. International Cooperation – providing Australian agencies with greater access to information stored overseas in the investigation of cybercrime and crimes committed using the internet; and
  3. Cybercrime Offences – extending the scope of existing Commonwealth computer offences to fully meet the requirements for such offences under the Convention.

“As we exchange more information online, Cybercrime is becoming a growing threat to individuals, businesses and governments,” Mr McClelland said.

“In the last six months alone, Australia’s Computer Emergency Response Team has alerted Australian business to more than a quarter of a million pieces of stolen information such as passwords and account details, allowing them to rectify and protect against potential attacks.

“While Australian law substantially complies with the obligations in the Convention, the Government believes there is more we can do to ensure Australia is in the best position to tackle cyber threats that confront us, both domestically and internationally.

“The increasing cyber threat means that no nation alone can effectively overcome this problem and international cooperation is essential.

“Australia must have appropriate arrangements domestically and internationally to be in the best possible position to fight cybercrime and cyber security threats.

“This Bill will facilitate Australia’s accession to the Convention and improve our ability to cooperate internationally.”

Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O’Connor said the Convention covers crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security.

“Consistent with the Convention, the Government’s Bill establishes procedures to make investigations more efficient and provide systems to facilitate international co-operation,” he said.

“This is an important step to increasing the powers of Australian investigators to effectively combat cybercrime with increased international cooperation.

“The changes will ensure that Australian legislation is consistent with international best-practice and enable domestic agencies to access and share information to facilitate international investigations.”

The Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 amends the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987, the Criminal Code Act 1995, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and the Telecommunications Act 1997.

The bill and explanatory memorandum can be found here.

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