New Zealand set to join Budapest Convention

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The New Zealand government has confirmed it is joining the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention.

The news was announced by Justice Minister Kris Faafoi and Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications Dr David Clark following a recommendation by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terror attack to comply to the Convention.

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

“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 is an international treaty with 65 member states from across the world. It addresses cyber-attacks that target computers or networks as well as other serious crimes that make use of technology or the internet.

By creating a common framework for cybercrime, along with common powers for getting electronic evidence, an international approach to these criminal investigations can be achieved supported by international and domestic human rights laws.

“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,” said David Clark.

“Membership of the Convention would see New Zealand join partners in fostering greater international cooperation on addressing cybercrime. As members, we would be better placed to contribute to the global dialogue on the problem of increased cross-border cybercrime.”

Some incremental changes would be required in New Zealand law mostly related to obtaining electronic evidence for criminal investigations in order to comply with this new convention.

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

“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.”

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