Cybercrime convention: civil liberties risk?

Summary:If Australia joins the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, police and intelligence agencies will get new powers to monitor your internet usage. Is it, as law enforcement officials claim, merely bringing the internet into line with traditional communications channels? Or is there a real risk to our civil liberties?

If Australia joins the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, police and intelligence agencies will get new powers to monitor your internet usage. Is it, as law enforcement officials claim, merely bringing the internet into line with traditional communications channels? Or is there a real risk to our civil liberties?

The Australian Government signalled in May 2010 that it intends to accede to the convention. The Attorney-General's Department has issued a discussion paper, and public submissions close next Monday, 14 March.

But as ZDNet Australia's Patch Monday reported in July, the convention comes bundled with provisions like the controversial European Directive on Data Retention, where internet service providers would log all user's emails and other communications for later use by law enforcement. These records could be pulled without a warrant, not just during investigations into major crimes such as terrorism or child abuse, but to look into any crime at all — including content and copyright offences.

In Germany, laws to enforce those provisions were declared unconstitutional. And in Sweden, the laws were due to be passed but the Pirate Party had members voted into parliament and they were dumped.

In Patch Monday this week, we hear from both sides. From the law enforcement viewpoint, we have cybercrime specialist Nigel Phair from the Surete Group, who's previously been with the Australian High Tech Crime Centre. His second book has just been published, Cybercrime: The Challenge for the Legal Profession. On the other side we have Electronic Frontiers Australia chair Colin Jacobs.

There's also my usual look at some of last week's news headlines.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 35 minutes, 27 seconds

Topics: Government, Government : AU, Security

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit tr... Full Bio

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.