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Australia joins cybercrime pact

Date: March 06, 2013

CANBERRA, Australia, March 5 (UPI) -- Australia has formally committed to the world's first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said.

"Australia becoming a party to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime will help combat criminal offenses relating to forgery, fraud, child pornography and infringement of copyright and intellectual property," Dreyfus said, announcing Australia would join 38 other nations in the treaty -- giving Australian law enforcement agencies access to communications relevant to cybercrimes from partner agencies around the world.

"The Internet makes it easy for criminals to operate from abroad, especially from those countries where regulations and enforcement arrangements are weaker," he said.

Australia's investigative agencies will be able to use new powers contained in the country's Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Act 2012 to work with cybercrime investigators around the globe.

Dreyfus emphasized the act contains privacy protections, safeguards and requirements for the exercise of powers, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

"A warrant is always required to access the content of a communication whether the information is in Australia, or accessed from overseas under the Cybercrime Convention," Dreyfus said. "The Cybercrime Act and the Cybercrime Convention do not impact in any way on the need to have a warrant to access content from a telephone call, SMS [text messaging] or email."

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