Cybercrime convention: civil liberties risk?

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?

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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 trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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Talkback

5 comments
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  • Data retention is the exactly the same as having paper-mail opened and photocopied by the Post Office.

    Given the huge quantity of SPAM that contains references to;**** enlargement", are we all going to be considered sexual perverts?

    Who is going to pay the IAPs the expense of holding all this data?
    Treknology
  • Very interesting discussion.

    Glad to hear you all hate "cyber" as a word, as much as me.
    anonymous
  • Have to wonder why these despicable control freaks want this unnecessary power.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • This is not only the Cyber Networks, i have had a problem with a firm claiming expertise in Microsoft Os's.

    With the problems they placed into my computer, by deleting parts of the os, i requested cancellation , and refund of the cost of the service, after some 4 weeks i found from my Credit cad company has no record of the transaction, because the charges were cancelled prior to being recorded on my Credit Card, so the system has a falling down, because it was never recorded,

    When i worked for the Government 20 years ago,all of these charges, and refunds had to be recorded. as it was Public Money involved, why is this not so in the Private arena to protect the public?

    this leaves a hole in the records in Credit cards, and if not followed up with a number of countries to find out the facts, and get the records of the company using the private Credit Card to make a debit for a member of the public.

    Now i am left to wait for the refund to hit my cad, and notify the firm them selves to cancel their refund, as the Credit Card Company regard unsupported refunds, as my money, even though there is no corresponding charge shon on the card statement,

    This being a simple monetary trans action between computers should not be up to the end user to try to talk to the Accountant level People, wuth the difference in terminologies.

    This should make a beautiful exanple of Cyber Ware gone haywire.
    Fredsan
  • Australians don't need or want this level of intrusion into their lives. There is no justification for the mandatory retention of internet activity, that can then be accessed by so called 'law enforcement' and 'other agencies' without any due process. Sounds like a lazy way run witch hunts.

    The bigger question is why does our government place so much credence on what other governments are doing, while ignoring the opinions of the very citizens they are meant to be serving? Why does the Australian government "accede" to foriegn goverments?

    If law enforcement, and/or other agencies (who would they be?), need to intercept and monitor internet activity they can get a warrant. If they don't need warrants, then they become nothing more than another Stazi.

    If anything, retention of data and access to it should be reversed. EVERYTHING a public servant, or government organisation does should be retained and immediately made available (free of charge) to the citizens. If they don't think it's in our best interests, then whose interests are they really serving? Isn't it their role to serve OUR interests?

    Looking at this another way, each government is using the 'but every other government does this' in an attempt to lend credence to need to monitor. It's no different to banks and other businesses colluding to serve their own interests at the expense of their customers.

    One minute it's a filter, then mandatory data retention, and the removal of the need for warrants.

    One last thing, what access will these foreign governments have to data on Australians? Is there a plan to share data between governments?
    Scott W-ef9ad