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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3127 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

it becomes very difficult to find who is responsible, to identify someone who may be acting in this way.

Systems provide a high degree of protection to users. It is quite possible to be entirely anonymous, so that it is very difficult to track down who may be responsible. Nevertheless, we should take steps to see that we control cyberstalking. Maybe some steps can be taken with the technology we use, but in this place we are looking at legislation.

People who know a little more about computers than I do point to the difficulties. For example, there are a lot of freebies around. Pick up any computer magazine and you can get free Internet access for a period of hours, a month, two months or three months. It was explained to me that it would be entirely possible for someone to pinch my name, to take up one of these freebies in my name, and to use my name to circulate offensive material around the place. We have seen how easy it is to break into computers and web sites and interfere with those web sites. It has been done at the political level.

We are well aware of the various viruses that plague the world at different times. The Melissa virus, the I Love You virus and the Anna Kornukova virus rapidly spread material. So it would not be difficult for someone with a little bit of skill to develop some techniques. Then that material will be spread widely very quickly.

Mr Osborne has indicated to me that he will look at one of the clauses in his bill. I think Ms Tucker is looking at it also. I know that Mr Stefaniak is preparing some amendments we have not seen yet, or some comments. I was concerned at Mr Osborne's claim at proposed subsection 92NC (3):

It is not a defence to a prosecution for an offence against this section that-

(a) the defendant did not know that the person to whom the suggestion was made, or the material was sent or made available, was a young person; or

(b) that the young person had consented to receive the material or suggestion.

I have some doubts about that, bearing in mind what I have said about how difficult it is to control what goes out. Something may go out in my name that I did not put out at all.

Secondly, it is impossible to know the age or the real identity of the person you may be talking to in a chat room or receiving messages from via the Internet. It is just not possible to know those things. I think there needs to be a reasonable measure of defence available to people who may be charged, given those difficulties.

There are other matters to be looked at, and I look forward to the debate as it continues, to see the points that are raised and see how we may approve, in principle and then in the detail, steps that can be taken that are fair and reasonable and will go some way towards removing stalking in this way


(Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (11.09): This bill will amend the Crimes Act 1900 in a number of ways. It will provide that sending electronic messages to a person on two or more occasions may constitute stalking under section 34A of the act, if the other requirements in that section are met. It will provide that

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