Australia introduces cybercrime legislation, seeks to join international treaty

[JURIST] The Australian Government [official website] on Wednesday introduced legislation [press release] aimed at reinforcing current cybercrime laws and improving Australia's international cybercrime security. Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland and Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O'Connor [official websites] announced that the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill of 2011 aims to provide Australian agencies with better access to international Internet information collections, facilitate cybercrime investigations and align current cybercrime offenses with those punishable by an international cybercrime treaty. If the laws are approved by parliament, the country will be poised to make its accession to the Council of Europe (COE) Convention on Cybercrime [text], the international treaty on cybercrime. McClelland emphasized the importance of the legislation as it relates to the international treaty, as well as maintaining a safe domestic environment for Internet use:

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.
More than 40 nations have signed or become a party to the Convention.

Several countries have attempted to bolster cymbercrime security enforcement in recent years. In early June, US authorities announced that they are investigating claims by Google [JURIST report] that hundreds of personal Gmail accounts were breached by hackers in China. In November 2009, the Iranian government announced the establishment of a new police unit [JURIST report] to fight Internet crime, though opposition leaders said its true purpose was to crack down on protesters and voices of dissent, who rely on the Internet to get their message out. The Finnish legislature passed the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media Act [unofficial translation, PDF] in December 2008 that now provides a remedy to victims of Internet crime [JURIST report], but it was not in effect at the time of an incident of Internet pedophilia. The US Senate ratified [JURIST report] the COE Convention on Cybercrime, which is intended to improve information- and evidence-sharing between national governments to prevent crimes on the Internet, in August 2006.

 

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