Australian Government Proposes Accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

Canberra, Australia ( March 01, 2011

Australian Government Proposes Accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

Australian Government Proposes Accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

Authorities will better positioned to prevent, detect and prosecute cyber crime offences if Australia accedes to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, according to a key report tabled in the Senate today.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the National Interest Analysis (NIA) will assist in the consideration of the Convention by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).

“This important analysis outlines the main obligations of the Convention, the extent to which Australian law is currently compliant and the advantages to the Australian community of acceding to the Convention,” said Mr McClelland.

“The report notes the Convention will enhance the ability of Australian domestic law enforcement agencies to collect, share and receive information to assist in domestic and foreign investigations.

“The Convention is the only binding international treaty on cybercrime.

“While Australian law substantially complies with the obligations in the Convention, the Government believes there is more we can do to ensure Australia is in the best position to tackle cyber threats that confront us, both domestically and internationally.

“Our key partners are party to the Convention and Australia’s membership has been raised at the Quintet of Attorneys General meeting between Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and New Zealand.”

Mr Rudd said Australian and wider accession to this treaty is an important part of broader international efforts to strengthen cooperation on cyber crime.

“The cyber-revolution has not only brought great benefits – it has also exposed significant vulnerabilities,” Mr Rudd said.

“It is imperative that the international community devise appropriate measures to address current and emerging threats.

“This is a high priority for Australia and is the subject of close consultation with partner countries.”

The Convention provides systems to facilitate international co-operation between signatory countries, as well as establishing procedures to make investigations more efficient, including:

  • helping authorities from one country to collect data in another country;
  • empowering authorities to request the disclosure of specific computer data;
  • allowing authorities to collect or record traffic data in real-time;
  • establishing a 24/7 network to provide immediate help to investigators; and
  • facilitating the exchange of information across borders.

The Convention promotes a coordinated approach to cybercrime by requiring countries to criminalise four types of offences, including:

  • offences against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems, including illegal access to computer systems, illegal interception, data interference, systems interference and the misuse of devices;
  • computer-related offences, including forgery and fraud;
  • content-related offences, including child pornography; and
  • offences related to the infringement of copyright and other related rights.

To date, over 40 nations have either signed or become a party to the Convention, including the United States, Canada, Japan and South Africa. Over 100 nations are also using the Convention as the basis to strengthen their legislation to combat the threat of cybercrime.

The National Interest Analysis is attached.

The Government is inviting the public to comment on Australia’s proposed accession to the Convention.  The consultation paper is available at  Submissions are sought by 14 March 2011.

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