Australia has formally joined 38 other nations as a party to the world’s first international treaty on crimes committed via the internet.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said this will help the country combat criminal offenses related to forgery, fraud, child pornography, and infringement of copyright and intellectual property.
“The internet makes it easy for criminals to operate from abroad, especially from those countries where regulations and enforcement arrangements are weaker," he said in a media release. “These powers will allow Australian law enforcement agencies to rapidly obtain data about communications relevant to cybercrimes from partner agencies around the world.
Dreyfus also emphasized that becoming a party to the Convention ensures Australian legislation is consistent with international best practice and enables domestic agencies to access and share information to facilitate international investigations.
Through this Convention, Australia’s investigative agencies can now use new powers contained in the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Act 2012 to work with cybercrime investigators around the globe.
The Act amended certain Commonwealth cybercrime offenses and enabled domestic agencies to access and share information related to international investigations.
Dreyfus said that the Act also created new privacy protections, safeguards, and reporting requirements for the exercise of new and existing powers, with the privacy protections maintaining robust protections for Australians.
Dreyfus, however, emphasized that a warrant is still required to access the content of a communication whether the information is in Australia, or accessed from overseas under the Cybercrime Convention.
He added that the Cybercrime Act and the Cybercrime Convention do not impact the need to have a warrant to access content from a telephone call, SMS or e-mail.
The Convention focuses on supporting international co-operation between nations, which is separate from PJCIS's inquiry on ensuring the country’s agencies are equipped to deal with the changing dynamics of communication and its infrastructure.