Flawed cybercrime Bill dodges national security inquiry

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The Australian Government is pursuing a draconian cybercrime law scheduled for debate in the Senate tonight despite warnings from its own MPs and before an inquiry into national security legislation has taken evidence or reported, the Greens said today.

The Greens communications spokesperson, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said Labor's cybercrime legislation would open the door to Australians' private data being shared with agencies overseas.

"This proposed law goes well beyond the already controversial European convention on which it is based, and no explanation has been provided as to why. The European Treaty doesn't require ongoing collection and retention of communications, but the Australian Bill does. It also leaves the door open for Australia to assist in prosecutions which could lead to the death penalty overseas. These flaws must be addressed before the Bill proceeds."

Senator Ludlam said the Government had addressed only one of a range of problems identified by a unanimous Parliamentary committee on the legislation.

"The Government ignored a series of recommendations from MPs on all sides of Parliament, and fixed one embarrassing drafting flaw that would have prevented accession to the European Convention and invalidated the whole point of the Bill.

"The Attorney General's Department did the bare minimum they thought necessary to acknowledge the existence of the critical and unanimous committee report. The Government was urged by its own MPs to fix this legislation but chose to leave it as is. The national security legislation review - which will be looking at a highly controversial data retention proposal - has barely begun, yet the Government has now brought a key piece of enabling legislation forward.

"We have recommended a number of improvements to the bill including fixing these flaws and clarifying the Ombudsman's powers to inspect and audit compliance with the preservation regime."