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Cybercrime

Australia is a highly connected country—technology and the internet are crucial to Australia's way of life.

While the potential of the internet and digital economy clearly represents a significant opportunity for Australia, it is also quickly emerging as a key enabler for criminal activity.

In Australia, the term 'cybercrime' is used to describe both:

  • crimes directed at computers or other information communications technologies (ICTs) (such as hacking and denial of service attacks)
  • crimes where computers or ICTs are an integral part of an offence (such as online fraud, identity theft and the distribution of child exploitation material).

Responsibility for combating the different forms of cybercrime in Australia is shared between Australian Government agencies and state and territory agencies.

Criminal offences

The Commonwealth has enacted a comprehensive set of offences to address cybercrime, contained in the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code). These offences are based on model laws agreed to by Commonwealth, state and territory governments in 2001. The offences are consistent with those required by the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and are drafted in technology-neutral terms to accommodate advances in technology.

Key Commonwealth offences are contained in Part 10.6 and Part 10.7 of the Criminal Code, which contains offences criminalising the misuse of telecommunication networks, ‘carriage services’ (a term which includes the internet and online services, as well as wired and mobile services) and computers.

The Commonwealth computer offences are complemented by state and territory laws which criminalise the misuse of data and computer systems.

National Plan to Combat Cybercrime

The Australian Attorney-General's Department has led the development of a National Plan to Combat Cybercrime, in consultation with Australian Government agencies and state and territory agencies.

The plan will ensure that Australia is best placed to respond to cybercrime by setting a course for action across all jurisdictions.

The plan commits Australian governments to taking concrete steps under six key priorities:

  • educating the community to protect themselves
  • partnering with industry to tackle the shared problem of cybercrime
  • fostering an intelligence-led approach and better information sharing
  • improving the capacity and capability of our agencies to address cybercrime
  • strengthening international engagement on cybercrime
  • ensuring our criminal justice framework keeps pace with technological change.

Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network

The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (the ACORN) is a national policing initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments.

The ACORN website provides the public with an easy and secure way to report cybercrime, and information about how to recognise and avoid common types of cybercrime.

It will help develop a clearer picture of the types of cybercrime affecting Australians, to ensure that agencies' responses are as effective as possible.

The ACORN is a key initiative under the National Plan to Combat Cybercrime. By understanding the enablers of cybercrime, we can make it harder and less rewarding for people to commit cybercrime. To learn more about the ACORN and how to report cybercrime, watch our online video and visit the ACORN website.

The ACORN was designed and delivered in collaboration with:

  • all Australian police agencies
  • Attorney-General's Department
  • Australian Crime Commission
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency
  • CrimTrac.

National Cybercrime Working Group

The National Cybercrime Working Group was established by the then Standing Council of Attorneys-General to facilitate a national response to cybercrime.

The group is chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Attorney-General's Department and comprises representatives from state and territory police and justice agencies, the Australian Crime Commission, the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency and CrimTrac.

The group advises the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC). Since its foundation in May 2010, the group has advised ministers on various matters relating to cybercrime including:

  • the effectiveness of national laws
  • arrangements for law enforcement cooperation on cybercrime investigations across Australian jurisdictions
  • law enforcement capabilities with respect to cybercrime
  • legal profession and judicial education on cybercrime matters.

The group will oversee the implementation of the National Plan to Combat Cybercrime, as well as future upgrades to the ACORN.

Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

Cybercrime is a global problem which requires a coordinated international response.

Australia has acceded to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. The convention is the leading, binding international instrument directed at cybercrime, to which a number of other countries are also parties including the United States, Japan and many European countries. The convention came into force for Australia on 1 March 2013.

The objectives of the convention are to harmonise domestic legal frameworks on cybercrime, provide for domestic powers to investigate and prosecute cybercrime, and establish an effective regime of international legal cooperation.

Accession to the convention also helps improve the ability of our agencies to work effectively with their overseas counterparts in responding to cybercrime.