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InternetNZ Concerned over Breadth of New Computer Crimes

InternetNZ, which made extensive submissions to the Select Committee that considered the Crimes Amendment Act No 6 Bill, has expressed its concern over the breadth of two new offences which have been added to the Bill.

Sue Leader, the Society's Executive Director said InternetNZ's Legal
& Regulatory Committee has looked at the Bill as reported back from
the Select Committee and is generally happy that the Select Committee
has taken note of many of our submissions.
Some issues remain of concern particularly for system administrators
whose ability to maintain their systems and protect against intrusion
may fall within the wide definitions.
However, of far more concern for us is the way in which the new
'denial of service' and 'possession of software or information for
criminal intent' provisions have been added.
We strongly support malicious denial of service being criminalised,
however, section 251(2)(c) goes too far. To suggest that anyone who
causes a computer to fail, or denies service to someone else, is a
criminal goes well beyond any malicious denial of service. For example,
ISPs may have all sorts of legitimate reasons to have their systems
deny access to particular people or to refuse to supply service. The
ultimate irony is that this section could even mean that an ISP that
takes its system down to combat a denial of service attack could be a
criminal under the very section designed to criminalise that attack
itself, unless the ISP has specific authorisation to do so.
In our view says Ms Leader an element of intentional wrong doing or
damage must be added and there must be exceptions for legitimate
activities the unavoidable consequence of which is that services are
curtailed .
InternetNZ is equally concerned about the other new crime.
It seems to us that this could prevent people putting up information
on a website which they know can be used to commit crime even where
they are doing so to help people avoid that crime. For example, someone
putting up information about common security defects could be caught.
There may also be Bill of Rights freedom of expression issues with
this, said Ms Leader.
The other concern that InternetNZ has is the manner in which these
provisions have been introduced, without any chance for public comment
or consultation.
Our members and the general public could be seriously affected by
the breadth of these new provisions and should have an opportunity to
make submissions on them, said Ms Leader.
We strongly suggest that these new provisions be referred back to select committee so that this can happen, she said.
For further information please contact:
Sue Leader, InternetNZ ph (04) 472 1600 or (021) 673-300
or the Chair, Legal & Regulatory Affairs Committee, Rick Shera on (021) 612 713
© 2001 The Internet Society of New Zealand
Last updated 20 September 2001

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