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Tuesday, 04 August 2009 12:53

Corporations must report e-crime warns DPP

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The best deterrent to crime is not the penalty imposed, but certainty of detection – which is why victims of e-crime should report it, according to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery.

“If we are to make significant inroads to limit e-crime then we need more reporting and exposure of what has happened,” said Mr Cowdery, speaking at the 2009 eCrime Symposium in Sydney.

“We need, in order to deal with the threat, more co-operation and more disclosure. If we get that and if we can persuade our political masters to increase our resources then we have the opportunity to keep this …within levels acceptable to the community at large. But we can only do that if the community comes to the party itself.”

Mr Cowdery said that e-crime was significantly under-reported by corporations, many of which were embarrassed to find themselves victims of e-crime, and unwilling to share that embarrassment publicly. While stopping short of calling for legislative reform mandating corporations report e-crime incidents, he did stress that reporting crime was an important first step in tackling the rising incidence of e-crime in Australia

He acknowledged that while some crimes perpetrated online were “old wine in new bottles” with “sexual perversion still sexual perversion” whether online or not, Mr Cowdery acknowledged new criminal activities were emerging as a result of people harnessing the internet for illicit purposes. In addition both the mechanism and opportunity to perpetrate what might be considered traditional crime, had been changed thanks to computers and international communications networks.

Mr Cowdery acknowledged the need for more harmonisation of international law pertaining to e-crimes, and also the challenges associated with selecting appropriate international jurisdictions for prosecution of an e-crime which might be international in nature. There were also difficult jurisprudence questions to consider such as the way in which young offenders were dealt with; “A 15 year old (hacker) in their bedroom. Do we treat them like children or because of the nature of the crime attribute to them a level of sophistication?”

He remained clearly sceptical however regarding Government initiatives to protect citizens young and old from dubious online content through the implementation of mandated filtering. “Crime prevention methods need to be practical. The talk of filters and blocking mechanisms, ultimately in a society like ours, would have only limited if any success,” warned Mr Cowdery.

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