Cybercrime Bill passes Senate...Sad day for Australia!

100th Monkey

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New Cybercrime laws have passed the parliament, allowing the government unprecedented access to our information. What do the changes mean for you?

Phone carriers will soon have to store text messages, emails and other data to help police fight cybercrime.

Government legislation that will allow the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and foreign law enforcement agencies to seek communications data under warrants cleared the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill allows for increased co-operation between local and overseas cybercrime investigators, extends the scope of existing Commonwealth computer offences and brings Australia into line with the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon hailed the passage of the bill.

"This will help combat criminal offences relating to forgery, fraud, child pornography and infringement of copyright and intellectual property," she said in a statement.

During the Senate debate on Wednesday, Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam raised concerns about stored data being given to foreign countries for use in criminal cases involving the death penalty.

But cabinet minister Joe Ludwig argued the federal police had strict guidelines about the level of co-operation it provides to foreign agencies.

Senator Ludlam argued there was a need for laws to catch up on technological developments so authorities could net tech savvy cyber criminals, however, privacy protection should not be completely sacrificed.

He pointed to the location data from mobile phones as an area in need of privacy safeguards.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said Senator Ludlam's concerns about privacy were laughable because he was a key supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had published thousands of diplomatic cables.

In doing so Assange had disregarded the privacy of those mentioned in the cables.

The Senate passed government amendments to address 12 out of 13 recommendations from the joint select committee on cyber-safety, covering privacy protections and assistance to foreign agencies.
The amended Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 will go back to the lower house for approval.