Since the advent of global connectivity, lawmakers and law enforcement bodies have had to shift from an internal, state-based focus to a multinational view when tackling crime. This is particularly the case when it comes to cyber crime. Cyber crime can be “committed” in one country but affect citizens worldwide, and it can be difficult to locate the perpetrators.
A recent demonstration of the truly transnational nature of cyber crime is the attack known as “WannaCry”, which released ransomware into thousands of computer systems around the world. Although it appears at this stage that the effects of WannaCry were relatively minor, it did attack large companies such as FedEx in the United States, government departments such as the National Health System in the UK and the Russian Interior Ministry, and many other organisations.
The potential for very serious consequences from this sort of attack is obvious, and cooperation between nations is essential when it comes to investigating and prosecuting borderless crimes like these.
How is Australia responding to the threat?
One of the most recent examples of transnational cooperation was the inaugural Australia-China High Level Security Dialogue, held on April 21, 2017. The dialogue was led by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General George Brandis, and Secretary Meng Jianzhu, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs (CCPCPLA).
What was discussed during the dialogue?
The dialogue was co-chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson, Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department Chris Moraitis PSM and Secretary-General Wang Yongqing of the CCPCPLA.
During the dialogue, delegates focused on discussions regarding:
- Cyber crime.
- Other transnational crimes.
- Security concerns.
- Principles of justice having regard to different legal and political systems in Australia and China.
What were the key outcomes of the dialogue?
As a result of the dialogue, it was agreed that there must be:
- Increased mutual cooperation in relation to judicial and legal matters. In practice, this is intended to result in regular consultation between both countries on legal issues (including education on the differing systems), delegations of officials and judicial officers to both countries to enhance understanding of transnational issues, and ongoing participation in bilateral legal talks and high-level security dialogue. Australia also agreed to continue to pursue ratification of a bilateral extradition treaty between Australia and China.
- Improved, more efficient cooperation in relation to the criminal justice framework between both countries.
- Better cooperation in relation to the prisoner transfer treaty agreement from both Australia and China.
- The creation of a mechanism between Australia and China for information-sharing on cyber security and crime, focused on thwarting cyber criminals, the distribution of child sex abuse material, phishing and online scams, and other transnational crimes. Australia and China also agreed to pursue joint law enforcement activities in these areas.
- Regular delegations focused on cyber security, including learning about legal and law enforcement practices in each country.
- Agreement by both Australia and China not to participate (tacitly or overtly) in cyber espionage, with a specific focus on the theft of intellectual property, trade secrets or confidential business information.
- Joint cooperation on counter-terrorism. This cooperation is to be effected through participation in a bilateral counter-terrorism dialogue, high-level security dialogue, and efforts at ministerial level in both Australia and China to combat transnational crime.
- Improved exchange of information and data on terrorism threats, including the repatriation of known terrorist “fighters”, as well as general information-sharing in relation to terrorism approaches.
- Better cooperation between law enforcement on “general” crimes including drug dealing, illegal immigration, and financial crimes including money laundering and fraud. In practice, this will involve the creation of a working group between Australian and China to focus on best methods to achieve this aim.
- Implementation of the third phase of the China-Australia Joint Anti-Narcotic Operations, with a view to this becoming common practice between Australia and China.
- Implementation of the Agreement on Combating Transnational Crime and Developing Police Cooperation by improving cooperation between the Australian Federal Police and the Ministry of Public Security in China.
The dialogue represents a strong step for increased cooperation between Australia and China. Both nations have agreed to implement a number of recommendations aimed at better dealing with transnational crime in the Asia Pacific region. It is anticipated that the second part of the dialogue will take place in China in early 2018.
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