Fed govt has no online crime protection

Justice minister Amanda Vanstone released a discussion paper on the weekend which outlines proposals to introduce federal laws against Internet crime.

The Model Criminal Code Discussion paper, which Vanstone released on Saturday, outlines proposals to introduce federal laws against Internet crime.

There are currently no federal laws preventing online crime, according to Model Criminal Code officers' committee spokesman Geoff McDonald. The committee is a joint Commonwealth and State criminal advisory board comprised of lawyers and law advisors.

McDonald said the purpose of the paper was to encourage state and federal governments to agree on a consolidated federal Internet crime-specific law.

McDonald said existing laws regarding hacking, Web sabotage and fraud currently differed from state to state. He said state hacker laws about "getting inside someone's computer and doing damage" had been introduced 10 years ago.

"They all did it slightly differently, with different emphases in different states," he said. "It was quite disparate."

McDonald said the proposed laws would incorporate all types of Web-related assault. Attacks resulting in a computer's inability to receive or send e-mail, as well as Internet "stalking" would be included in the proposed laws, he said. McDonald said, under the proposed laws, even failed attempts at Internet-related felony would be treated as serious crimes.

According to the paper, punishments for committing serious offences with the use of a computer should be the same as if without.

"It goes right down from stalking, which includes five years' imprisonment... up to things like sabotage, for which this paper recommends imprisonment of 25 years," McDonald said.

McDonald said the committee would rely on feedback from legal and IT industry professionals in its preparation of a "final report", which he said would be submitted to government bodies by the end of this year.

The 312 page document can be found at http://law.gov.au/publications/Model_Criminal_Code/index.htmThe committee will receive submissions until the end of March.

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Byron Kaye

PC World

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