The Government has recognised the growing threat to business and consumers posed by international cybercrime, which is currently ranked as the most profitable form of crime. Hence they have introduced the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (Bill) which is currently before federal parliament.

The main purpose of this legislation is to make the necessary amendments to facilitate Australia’s accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. This will include amendments to the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act 1979, Criminal Code Act 1995, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987 and the Telecommunications Act 1997. The bill makes three key changes:

  • It allows agencies to request the preservation of communications that carriers store, including SMS messages. However these can only be accessed under a warrant. 
  • A framework is established for Australian agencies to have increased co-operation with overseas partners in investigating cybercrime.
  • The scope of existing Commonwealth computer offences are extended to comprehensively meet the requirements for these offences under the Convention, while preserving existing state laws.

There were considered to be sufficient mechanisms in the Bill which protect privacy and the integrity of information by introducing these measures.