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The State of Cyber World and Law in Australia

The Internet is one of the most priceless human constructs, even though people take it for granted. We can literally obtain any type of information, access various knowledge databases, communicate in an almost real-time manner, send, receive, purchase, sell, and browse. Instantaneously. The Internet has become ubiquitous, from our very own pockets to high-level government institutions, with billions of people sharing their information worldwide.

Cybercrime

The dark side of the Internet. Just like in the real world, the world of tangibility and analog experientiality, cybercrimes show the potency of global networking today. This very potency facilitates traditional crimes and allows them to be committed in a digital environment. Why has cybercrime become such an important issue? Because of the efficiency of committing it, the extremity of loss from it, easy access to the Internet, and wealth of personal information available. The real and the Internet world are seamlessly integrated to the younger generations. In Australia, as the NBN (National Broadband Network) is built, the issue of cybercrime is expected to grow in importance, and developing an effective response to it is essential for Australia.

Losses Due to Cybercrime

The Australian government has announced a new cyber strategy worth $230 million, which includes funding for more cybercrime expert and specialist officers in the Australian federal police and Australian Crime Commission. According to the strategy, Australia loses more than $1 billion a year due to cybercrime. However, the real impact could reach around $17 billion a year, because their estimates show cybercrime losses are around 1% of GDP per year.

The threat of cybercrime continues to grow, and is unrelenting and undeniable. Australian government networks (as well as the networks of other countries around the globe) are targeted almost daily, due to being subjected to various cyber-espionage activities. The government plans to tackle these crimes, such as “hacktivism”, malware attacks (forcing users to pay a ransom), and theft of intellectual property or data through cyber espionage.

Threat Sharing Centres

cyber theftFirst of all, in order to shut down safe havens for cybercriminals, the strategy requires greater international cooperation, as most cybercrime targeting people on the Australian soil originates overseas. The government, thus, plans to spend $39 million on moving the Australian Cyber Security Centre from Canberra, as well as $47 million to set up various threat sharing centres near capital cities and improving cooperation through an online portal. Sharing critical information will help with identifying cybercrime patterns and predicting cyber security threats.

Businesses have information about malicious activities on their systems and networks, because they own and operate their own Internet infrastructure. Those who want to share information about cyber-attacks with each other will be able to do that using an honest broker – the Australian government. The government will boost its expertise in this area with a cyber ambassador, special advisor in the department of Prime minister and cabinet, and a new minister who’ll assist the Prime Minister on cyber security. On top of $400 million already committed to cyber security, Australia will add another $230 million to that funding commitment.

Anti-Piracy Website Blocking Legislation

The passing of this legislation in June 2015 was described as a dark day for the Internet in Australia, except for the TV and film industry which has been trying to find a way to block free access to websites that have been offering their content. This legislation allows the holders of rights to appeal to Federal Court judge to get any website (domestic or overseas) which purpose is to facilitate copyright infringement – blocked. However, according to my enquiries of some of the best criminal lawyers Sydney has to offer, the bill lacks important definitions and the issue remains unaddressed. What is ‘primary purpose’ or ‘facilitation’? There’s no definition.

Websites which allow people to illicitly download TV shows and movies without paying, such as The Pirate Bay, are expected to be among the first ones in the sight of rights holders. Great day for the industry that produces such creative content, but a bad one for those who want to access it without a compensation. On the one hand, piracy theft is wrong and harmful to businesses and Australia’s creative communities, but the consumer groups are afraid that the regime protected by the bill could go much further to enable rights holders to block websites that host legitimate files and have the bill misused for information censorship.

So, before doing anything for what you may believe that is in the Internet’s gray area or could be on the “other side of the law”, get yourself acquainted with Australia’s laws and legislations on online data access. Protect your digital property by any means necessary to prevent theft, fraud and someone else from usurping the private property on your computer, tablet, smartphone, or any other device that enables you to connect to the digital world of the Internet.

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