Cybercrime Bill passes Senate, set to become law

Cybercrime Bill passes Senate, set to become law

Summary: The Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 has passed through the Australian Senate, allowing Australia to accede to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.


The controversial Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 passed the Australian Senate today.

The Bill 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, and allows Australia to accede to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. The latter treaty is designed to foster cooperation and common policy between nations to deal with multi-national crimes committed on computer networks across the globe, such as online fraud or child pornography offences.

The proposed amendments have been debated rigorously, with some concerned that the legislation is a backward step, and many internet service providers are concerned over the new requirements that may be placed upon them to retain data on individuals under investigation.

The Bill passed with some amendments by the Labor Party, after taking into consideration some of the recommendations made by the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. These include privacy protections and how assistance is provided to foreign agencies.

The Greens' amendments were voted against. These included concerns that the information shared could result in the death penalty overseas, even though Australia does not support capital punishment, and that the Bill should be clearer to prevent this. Greens spokesperson Scott Ludlam also said in the Senate today that it was deeply concerning that countries with less strict privacy legislation than Australia could request personal information on Australians under investigation, and that the amendments had no language to refuse such a request.

"Given the medium that we now operate in, privacy protections can be absolutely rock-solid in Australia, but if we are sharing data — intimate personal details of people's lives — with law enforcement and intelligence agencies in foreign jurisdictions with lower standards of privacy protection that we have in Australia, and that material leaks, then the privacy protections that they're afforded in Australia is worthless, because that information can be back in Australia at the speed of light."

With the amendments becoming law, Australia will be able to join 34 other nations that have already acceded to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, including the US and Germany.

"This is good news for fighting crime, and will help make it easier for police to track down cybercriminals around the world," Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said in a statement.

"In particular, this will help combat criminal offences relating to forgery, fraud, child pornography and infringement of copyright and intellectual property.

"The Convention promotes a coordinated approach to cybercrime, by requiring countries to criminalise these computer related offences. The Convention also establishes procedures to make investigations more efficient to improve international cooperation."

Topics: Security, Government, Government AU

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • Question

    Now, with this act, is EVERY Australian citizen under surveillance or only those who are targeted by domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies?
    • and just what exactly are our respective countries sharing with

      who watches the watchers??

      • Who watches the watches?

        Who watches the Watchers. The catch cry of the civil libertarian. Just not a well considered one. Its an never ending circular argument. Yes there is a risk that the "Watchers" will not act in the ethical manner we would like, but the alternative is to have no watchers. Now I get some people don't want to be subjected to watching. Normally those who have something to hide but also those of us who are just plain paranoid - like me. The fact is the Law enforcement agencies are only looking at you if you have done something you shouldn't have because they don't have the time to watch everyone. The Military intelligence agencies who I suspect we should be more worried about didn't need this legislation to do that watching anyway - it doesn't matter to them whether their spying is legal. They don't use it in court.
        Eric Draven
  • One step closer to a one world government...

    The only way to put an end to global crime and stupidity (drugs, child porn, cyber crime, pollution, GMOs, War, killing the planet, etc.) is with global unified laws and global enforcement of those laws. And it all leads to a one world government (no states acting as stupid individuals, one government controlling the entire planet)... As scary as that may sound, it is the next logical step in the evolution of human kind. Once we put an end to all the BS (racism, religion, and other various beliefs of stupidity), then we can get down to evolving into a better way of life for all. All I have to say is that it's about damn time... I'm tired of dealing with idiots and all their idiotic beliefs (religies, rednecks, etc).
    • That gives me an idea... to the sorts of laws you would pass. Apparently, freedom of thought isn't high on your priority list.
      John L. Ries
      • Freedom of thought is the highest on my priority list...

        Hence the anti stupidity and crime rant... Freedom of thought is not blindly following the fiction of others. Anyone with a few braincells to rub together knows religion is fiction and that all gods, past, present, and future are fiction. The Bible is the oldest chain letter in existance (the first 5 books of the bible are also the first 5 of the Quran and the Torah)... We know when they were written, by whom, and why... We all know that they are all full of cr@p and have just enough reality woven into the fiction to dupe the stupid who are incapable of free thought.

        Give this a little free thought... Throw out the bible and you throw out evil, and satan along with it... Know Jesus, Know Satan, No Jesus, No Satan... Give that a little free thought if you are capable...
        • Intellectual Biggotry

          Nice straw man argument! You would have us believe that we should reward your intolerance and concur with your baseless rationalization that religion is to be blamed for the ills of the world? It never occurred to you that humans are fallible and easily corrupted? So you think the next step in human evolution is a world government? Are you sure? This is the same argument that when the absence of religion is achieved, you would have peace and new world order, like some utopia. Well, only problem is that history is replete with examples of why your wrong. One world governance will fail too. Besides intellectual drivel, your words are nothing but mildly cloaked bigotry. One would have to deduce you're a shill for the militant atheist movement. Absolute power, absolutely corrupts. But nice try!
          Ball Buster
          • You could use a reading comprehension class too Ball Buster...

            Did I say that religion is to be blamed for the ills of the world? No.. I did not ... Did I say the world would be a utopia when the absence of religion is achieved.. No.. I did not braniac... You are obviously incapable of free thought and are totally clueless about the fact that we are living in a time that is unlike anything else in history. We never had a global unifier like the internet... History has no example of a time like this nor does history have an example of a time without the stupidity of religion... So nice try trying to shill for stupidity boy genius, but it really wasn't (a nice try, it was pathetic and lame).
    • one steep closer to a lobotomy?

      Your naivety is breath-taking. What does this law have to do with "idiots and all their idiotic beliefs"?! Sorry to break it to you... NOTHING.

      That people can just now allow their lives to have no privacy, as governments exploit the move of humanity to online, just astounds me. But you get what you deserve, I guess. And such stupidity maybe deserves it. I just wish I didn't have to live in those consequences too.
      Aaron Darc
      • Go sign up for a class on reading comprehension Aaron...

        I never said nor implied that this law had to do with anything... Go read the article and then read my comment again (all of it), and see if you can't figure it out.