New laws passed the Senate yesterday changing Australia’s privacy legislation to bring us in line with other countries and pave the way for Australia to accede to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime – effectively allowing Australia to work alongside other countries to share and access information to aid in investigations of cybercrime. We look at the implications for this new bill, and the benefit in investigating fraud cases which can not only lead to loss of monies but negatively impact the victim’s credit file.
By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.
We have been following the passage of this Bill through Parliament for over 12 months, since its introduction into the House of Representatives in June. See http://mycra.com.au/blog/2011/06/government-brings-laws-war-cyber-crime-identity-theft/ and http://mycra.com.au/blog/2011/11/bill-fight-global-cybercrime-coming-year/ and looking at the possible impact these changes could have on identity theft numbers.
The Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 amends the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987, the Criminal Code Act 1995, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and the Telecommunications Act 1997.
The Government amended the Bill in the Senate to address some of the recommendations made by the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, including privacy protections and aspects of the provision of assistance to foreign agencies. The Government has agreed in principle with 12 of the Committee’s 13 recommendations.
The passing of the Bill means Australia is one step closer to acceding to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, meaning it would join 34 other nations that have already become a party to the Convention. The Convention is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said in a statement to the media yesterday that the Convention will help make it easier for police to track down cyber criminals around the world.
“In particular, this will help combat criminal offences relating to forgery, fraud, child pornography, and infringement of copyright and intellectual property.
“The Convention promotes a coordinated approach to cybercrime by requiring countries to criminalise these computer related offences. The Convention also establishes procedures to make investigations more efficient to improve international cooperation,” Ms Roxon says.
Privacy Protection or Privacy Invasion?
One well publicised change to Privacy Law will be the increase in police powers of surveillance. Police will be able to enforce the retaining of data by internet service providers on persons of interest even before they have an arrest warrant.
Whilst these legal changes are widely approved, some raised concerns during a Senate inquiry into online privacy that this part of the law threatens the Privacy of individuals and threatens human rights and civil liberties.
There are so many reports that the world is effectively chasing the tail of cybercriminals – the extent of which is far-reaching and difficult to combat. Australia is reportedly now a prime target for fraud with many accounts of scams, bugs, phishing attacks etc etc often instigated from overseas shores.
To find out more about how we as ordinary Australians fit into the cyber-crime puzzle, you can read our blog post about the ‘Dark Market’: http://mycra.com.au/blog/2011/09/insight-%e2%80%98dark-market%e2%80%99-cyber-crime-underworld/.
And often by the time people know they have had fraud committed against them the dust has long settled on any trace.
But the effects can be felt for years by their victims, especially if the fraudsters are able to steal an identity, and take credit out in their victim’s name. The victim is then not only faced with a mountain of debt, and a series of defaults against their credit file. Both of which are not easy to recover from. They have to prove it wasn’t them that initiated the debt – pretty hard when there is no actual ‘perpetrator’ that anyone can see.
For the sake of people in this situation, and victims of other cybercrimes – in particular, child pornography which is possibly more rampant, more damaging and more difficult to investigate – we need to get united as we are on the Web.
It may be a bitter pill to swallow for Australians to give up some of their rights to Privacy to be replaced with more privacy protection but we may all have to swallow it regardless.
What you can do to protect your credit rating from identity theft
Our message at MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs is: please take steps to protect your credit rating from fraud!
Educate yourself – visit the government sites like SCAMwatch, Stay Smart Online, and the Attorney-General’s website. If you are interested in keeping up to date with what could be occurring – say in cyber-circles you can visit technology sites like ZD Net Australia, or Computerworld or even subscribe to MyCRA’s RSS Feed for updates on security issues affecting credit files.
Know what’s on your credit file – grab a free copy of your credit file today from one or more of Australia’s credit reporting agencies, Veda Advantage, Dun & Bradstreet, and TASCOL in Tasmania which will be mailed to you within 10 days.
Your credit report is free every 12 months – take advantage of this by ordering a copy every year. Make sure there are no defaults currently attached to your file. If they shouldn’t be there or there are errors – you may be eligible for credit repair.
If you feel vulnerable to fraud, for a fee credit reporting agency Veda offers an ‘alert’ service, which informs you of ANY changes to your credit file such as a change of contact details or a credit enquiry, which would point to you being a victim of identity theft – possibly BEFORE there are harmful defaults put against your name.
For more information on identity theft, or help with credit repair following identity theft, contact MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs tollfree on 1300 667 218 or visit our website www.mycra.com.au.
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