Sunday, May 26, 2024

NZ to join the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

The Government is joining the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (the Budapest Convention), Justice Minister Kris Faafoi and Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications Dr David Clark announced today.

The decision progresses a recommendation by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terror attack to accede to the Convention.

“Cybercrime is increasing every year. International cooperation on tackling cybercrime is essential, because criminals frequently operate across borders,” Minister Faafoi said.

“We cannot allow criminal activity to undermine our ability to thrive online. We need to ensure New Zealand is confident and secure in the digital world, and that we can work with others in tackling threats to online wellbeing.”

The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, formally known as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, is an international treaty with 65 member states from across the world. 

The Convention addresses cyber-attacks that target computers or networks as well as other serious crimes that make use of technology or the internet, including computer-enabled fraud, and the distribution of child sexual exploitation material and terrorist and violent extremist content; and access to criminal evidence stored electronically, to address serious crime.

By creating a common framework for tackling computer crimes, and with common powers for obtaining electronic evidence, the Convention strengthens international cooperation on a wide range of criminal investigations, underpinned by international and domestic human rights laws. 

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain specifically supported acceding to and implementing the Budapest Convention as part of its recommendation to review all legislation related to the counter-terrorism effort.

“Joining the Convention will support our work to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online by bolstering how we work with others to investigate and obtain evidence of serious criminal activity,” Minister Clark says.

“Membership of the Convention would see New Zealand join partners in fostering greater international cooperation on addressing cybercrime,” he said.

“As members, we would be better placed to contribute to the global dialogue on the problem of increased cross-border cybercrime.”

He said while New Zealand’s laws already largely align with the requirements of the Convention, some incremental changes would be required, mostly related to obtaining electronic evidence for criminal investigations.

Public consultation on acceding to the Budapest Convention took place last year, with a focus on Māori, telecommunications companies, and civil society groups. This was to ensure that the Government had an informed view of the implications of New Zealand joining the Convention. 

“Thank you to everyone who took part – we appreciate the feedback and the issues that were raised in the consultation process,” Mr Faafoi says.

“In response to the feedback we received, we have made a number of changes to the policy proposals, and we are looking at ways that Māori can have an ongoing oversight role in the implementation of and participation in the Budapest Convention.”

The Convention will be submitted to the House of Representatives for Parliamentary Treaty Examination before a bill is introduced to amend New Zealand legislation to meet the requirements of the Budapest Convention.

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