Australia signs EU Cybercrime Convention

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Australia signs EU Cybercrime Convention

New police powers get legs.

Australia has formally signed the European Convention on Cybercrime in a move pundits say will help fight cybercrime and critics argue impinges on civil liberties.

The treaty will give legs to the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Act 2012 that allows police in 38 countries — each party to the convention — to request with a warrant the interception of telecommunications data.

Telco data between signatory countries can be shared across international borders to help fight cybercrime.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said that Australia's accession to the treaty will help combat fraud, child pornography, and infringement of copyright.

“The internet makes it easy for criminals to operate from abroad, especially from those countries where regulations and enforcement arrangements are weaker,” Dreyfus said.

"These powers will allow Australian law enforcement agencies to rapidly obtain data about communications relevant to cybercrimes from partner agencies around the world.

“The convention will also ensure vital evidence is not lost before a mutual assistance request can be completed.”

He said Australia would benefit from reciprocal powers offered by police agencies in other signatory nations which would “make it easier for police to track down cyber criminals around the world”.

The laws were separate to the Federal Government’s proposed data retention plan which would see users' telecommunications data stored for up to two years without the need for a warrant.

The Pirate Party is a critic of Australia's accession to the convention.

"We still don't believe the balance has been met with this legislation," party secretary Brendan Molloy said.

"The current legislation is already fundamentally unbalanced, with language that will allow countries who have the death sentence as part of their legal system to get access to our citizens' information.

"The National Security Inquiry will only make things worse with the introduction of mandatory data retention for two years without warrant."

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