e-Justice Project: Computer Safeguards One Step Closer

  • Tony Ryall

"Important new safeguards for computer systems moved a significant step closer today with the second reading and referral to Select Committee of the Crimes Amendment Bill (No.6)," Justice Minister, Tony Ryall said.

Once passed into law the bill will create three new computer system offences: the dishonest use of a computer; attempting to dishonestly use a computer; and intentional or reckless serious damage to a computer. The new offences will carry maximum penalties of up to 7 years imprisonment.

"The bill has been referred to the Justice and Law Reform Select Committee. The public will have the opportunity to make submissions on the bill, following the election, in due course," said Mr Ryall.

"This is one part of the Government's e-Justice project: making our laws technology neutral.

"A further offence of ‘hacking' or ‘cracking' into a computer system is also proposed. However, the definition of such an offence requires more consideration and is not expected to be ready for introduction until next year," said Mr Ryall.

"The bill will redefine ‘property' to clearly include property you can't physically touch such as the balance of a bank account. It will also extend the definition of 'document' to include electronic documents held on computers. A recent court case raised questions about whether such documents legally ‘exist'.

"It is important that we try and make our laws technology neutral so that they can be applied equally to the technology of today as to technology yet to come.

"With computers now a part of our everyday lives we expect a great deal of interest from the public and business community in this legislation now that it is at the Select Committee," Mr Ryall concluded.