The Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention was ratified by Australia on Friday, 1 March 2013. Pirate Party Australia has previously criticised the Convention for being flawed in regard to the protection of privacy and personal data.
The Pirate Party notes that the Australian Parliament has already passed a comprehensive piece of legislation in August 2012 that complies with the requirements of the Cybercrime Convention. The pious-sounding Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Act 2012 includes the ability for a foreign country to ask Australia for a communication by an Australian if the crime for which they are accused carries the death penalty in the requesting country.
The current legislation could allow a country to gather data about Australian citizens for any crime with a penalty exceeding $100,000, or that carries the death penalty. Due to the loose dual-criminality provisions within the Act, this could potentially allow countries with blasphemy laws, criminal copyright provisions or laws against activism to access Australian data.
The treaty’s entry into force comes at a time when the Australian Government, with the support of various law enforcement agencies, is examining an extensive range of proposed amendments to national security and intelligence legislation and regulations. Included among these changes are the mandatory, warrantless two-year retention of the Internet communications of all Australians, the ability for law enforcement agencies to not only remotely access citizens computers but to also add software and other files to them, as well as penalties for failing to assist in decrypting encrypted data.
Australian Greens, Pirate Party Australia combined press release
Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam will table a petition in the Senate tomorrow circulated by Pirate Party Australia and comprising 1447 signatures raising serious concerns about proposed changes to national security laws.
The signatories have presented objections to the proposals under discussion by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security Inquiry into potential reforms of National Security Legislation (#natsecinquiry).
“98.9 per cent of the five and a half thousand submissions received by the Committee are opposed to the unnecessary and dangerously vague data retention proposal and other draconian ideas suggested by the Attorney General’s Department,” said Senator Ludlam.
Pirate Party Secretary Brendan Molloy said, “The petitioners object to penalties for failing to provide computer passwords and near unrestricted interception of communications, as well as the appallingly short window of time provided by the Committee to make a submission, of which the Pirate Party campaigned for an extension.”
Pirate Party Australia is alarmed at reports that Telstra plans to slow the speed of peer-to-peer traffic which may involve the use of deep packet inspection (DPI) to determine data prioritisation.
Peer-to-peer networks are decentralised methods of distributing content, making them robust against server outages, and spreads the responsibility of serving content across the network rather than being limited by a single provider.
Many different applications rely on peer-to-peer connections, such as the telephone software Skype, and the updating software for popular games such as World of Warcraft. Deep packet inspection (DPI) involves examining each segment of data that is downloaded and uploaded by a computer connected to the Internet, effectively wiretapping your Internet connection.
Pirate Party Australia objects to the plans on the grounds that an Internet service provider (ISP) should remain as impartial as possible to the types of traffic flowing through their network, and the potential privacy concerns that DPI raises.
Pirate Party Australia applauds comments made by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, warning of the potential pitfalls of data retention.
This week Berners-Lee raised concerns that data retention would needlessly compromise Internet users’ privacy while failing to actually assist in reducing serious crime. His comments come as a result of proposals contained within the Attorney-General’s National Security Inquiry discussion paper which has been met with widespread criticism.
“Data retention is a serious threat to personal privacy,” said Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer, Deputy Secretary of Pirate Party Australia. “While the Attorney-General, other parliamentarians, law enforcement and intelligence agencies champion its necessity to protect the community, they consistently fail to acknowledge the potential ramifications of placing an entire nation under constant surveillance.”
“As Mr Berners-Lee rightly points out: people often feel more comfortable seeking help anonymously online than from friends and family. Compromising the ability for people to maintain anonymity is a slippery slope away from protecting the community.”
Pirate Party Australia recommends caution be exercised in regards to the establishment of a global digital market that would involve ceding sovereignty of data to the United States or other jurisdictions with poor data protection legislation and records.
The Party’s warning bells were triggered by an opinion piece from Jeffrey Bleich, US Ambassador to Australia, published in the Sydney Morning Herald two days ago. Mr Bleich’s opinion piece states that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) may be used to eliminate what he refers to as “cloud protectionism”.
“It’s alarming that they would be even considering such a thing, when the Dutch are currently wondering whether the US can access their confidential health records under the PATRIOT Act,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.