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AG defends Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill

AG defends Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, slams what he calls 'false assertions' about the Bill by Age columnist

The Attorney-General Robert McClelland, has sought to sway public opinion on the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 by slamming "alarmist" assertions made about the new laws.

In an opinion piece, McCelland said that the Bill was introduced to help tackle international online crime syndicates, such as paedophile networks, as well as help law enforcement agencies investigate cyber crime.

"This Bill will allow law enforcement agencies to request a service provider not to destroy information about suspected criminal activity while a warrant is sought," he said.

"A columnist in The Age asserted that the executive of government and law enforcement agencies would be able to access this content without a warrant - this is 100 per cent incorrect."

According to McCelland, it was wrong to suggest that the judiciary will no longer have oversight of access to a citizen's information through the granting of warrants.

"Only when a warrant is granted can the information be accessed. If no warrant is granted, the information will be destroyed."

He also said the columnist was wrong for suggesting that the Bill implies new incursions on people's privacy.

"Internet service providers already retain data under strict guidelines and it must be managed with the National Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act including a requirement for the information to be managed securely," McClelland said.

He added that agencies must revoke a preservation notice if the grounds for seeking the order no longer exist.

McClelland also responded to issues raised in relation to sharing information with overseas law enforcement agencies for political offences, where if found guilty, the person could receive the death penalty.

"Australia has strong mutual assistance frameworks for sharing information about suspected criminal activity with other countries under which the Bill will operate."

In addition, he said the Federal Government would consider the joint select committee on cyber safety's view before the Bill is debated in the Senate.

In August 2011, the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) warned during a Joint Select Committee Hearing that the Bill has the potential to invade the rights of individuals and grants additional access to information by a range of agencies.

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at idg.com.au

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