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Australia ratifies cybercrime convention

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Australia's Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has announced that the government has formally signed the European Convention on Cybercrime.

Doing so was the final step in becoming party to the convention, after the Cybercrime Amendment Bill passed through Australia's Parliament in 2012.

The A-G said the move will “will help combat criminal offences relating to forgery, fraud, child pornography, and infringement of copyright and intellectual property”.

Among other things, the convention includes controversial data retention provisions that are still the subject of an inquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. Most of the telecommunications industry has resisted internet data retention on the basis of cost, and because of the challenges distinguishing between “metadata” – which the government says is the limit of its requirement – and the content of communications.

The Attorney-General stated that “Becoming party to the Convention ensures Australian legislation is consistent with international best practice. It enables domestic agencies to access and share information to facilitate international investigations and help countries in the region build capacity to address cybercrime.

“Australia will be able to benefit from reciprocal powers offered by the 38 other nations [the other signatories to the convention]”, he said, adding that the Cybercrime Amendment Act had also created new privacy protections, safeguards and reporting requirements for the exercise of new and existing powers.

He also states that a warrant is required “to access the content of a communication”. ®

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