Lawmakers in Australia’s Victoria state have proposed a bill that will give its police force more powers to go after cybercriminals. The bill responds to the growing issue of cybercrimes involving digital assets in the state.
According to a press release from the office of the Premier of Victoria, the Honourable Daniel Andrews, the bill called “The Major Crime and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2022” was introduced to parliament by the ruling Labor Party.
If passed, it will give the police “stronger powers to investigate organized crimes, seize ill-gotten gains and target cyber criminals.” Among the specific powers it will introduce include the ability for law enforcement to compel digital assets firms to turn in information about suspects and also seize digital wallets.
The bill will also update the methods the police can use in investigating cybercrimes. Intelligence officers will be authorized to go undercover in investigating child grooming cybercrime rings. While the search powers will be updated to “reflect the realities of modern policing” such that the police can obtain electronic data and even bring in specialized help when executing search warrants.
In a statement, Anthony Carbines, Victoria’s Minister for Police, supported the proposed bill. He noted that the police need to evolve to keep pace with new methods criminals are inventing to commit crimes.
“The way criminals operate is changing rapidly—we need to be just as quick in empowering our police to respond to new ways of offending, crack down on crime and keep the community safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, the bill maintains safeguards and oversight not to give the police runaway powers. It includes provisions for court oversight over the execution of warrants and disbursement of seized assets to crime victims.
Australia battling increasing digital assets fraud
Victoria’s move is coming on the back of nationwide complaints of increased digital assets-related crimes. According to a Bloomberg report, an estimated one cybercrime attacks targets Australians every eight minutes.
Several federal and state regulators in the country have set out to combat the crime spree. Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) teamed up to launch a tool that automatically takes down phishing sites.
Previously, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) released two guidelines for businesses and individuals to utilize in identifying and preventing ransomware payments, and illicit digital assets use.
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