Advances in technology has brought many benefits but also problems. The use of new technology creates moral and ethical problems and conflicting attitudes in society. The complexity of the issues and the pace with which technology changes mean that legislators have difficulty making laws that can keep in control of these changes.
Technology affects all areas of society, forcing changes in a range of laws. Advances in computer technology have resulted in a new brand of cyber crimes such as computer fraud, computer hacking, email spam, pornography (especially when it relates to children) and stalking online. But it doesn’t just limit itself to computer related crimes. The new wave of digital recording devices create issues with privacy and new medical technology brings up moral issues in relation to cloning, genetic engineering and prolonging life (and also euthanasia).
Computers have become a big part of our lives. They are being used more and more and the Internet has brought with it a big amount of computer criminals. In 1988, Victoria created the first Australian computer crime laws.
The Crimes (Computer) Act 1988 (Vic.) outlaws computer hacking (unauthorised access to data stored in a computer) with a new crime of computer trespass. It is also an offence under this act to use a computer to obtain property by deception. The Cyber Crimes Act 2001 (Cth) prohibits access or modification to a computer to commit indictable offences like fraud. It also makes it illegal to gain access to restricted data or to affect connections between computers. This also makes it illegal to modify information on credit cards or any other electronic devices. The Crimes (Stalking) Act 2003 (Vic.) makes it illegal to stalk people over the internet either within Australia or overseas. Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000 (Cth) deals with the issue of copyright over the internet. The Spam Act 2003 (Cth) regulates the conditions in which emails sent from unsolicited parties are sent to people. Commercial spam can’t be sent unless permission is given (usually through a subscription) and it also bans email address harvesting software. Certain parties such as the Government, charitable and religious parties are exempt. Finally, the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Telecommunications Offence and Other Measures) Act (No 2) 2004 (Cth) bans the use of telecommunication services to harass, make threats to people, provide child pornography or to encourage children to engage in sexual activity. It also makes it illegal to improperly use the 000 emergency number.
As mentioned before, one of the acts relating to technology is the Copyright Amendment Act 2000 (Cth). Authors of creative material have an automatic right not to have this material copied or used by others for profit or for gain. This means that people who make copies of TV programs, movies, songs or articles may be committing a crime. Exemptions apply for fair copying of material used for critical review or...