Top Australian cybercop laments slow official evidence exchange

It's faster for law enforcement agencies to work with each other directly

Australia generally doesn't pursue obtaining evidence in cybercrime cases using mutual legal assistance treaties due to long lag times in receiving court-certified evidence.

It can take up to two years to receive evidence using a mutual legal assistance treaty, said Brad Marden, coordinator of cybercrime operations for the Australian Federal Police, at an IBM security event in Sydney on Tuesday. In the Australian legal system, police have just three months to present a brief to a court on someone who has been arrested.

"Obviously, in cybercrime, that's no good," Marden said. "So we don't generally pursue that mutual legal assistance."

The U.S. signed a mutual legal assistance with Australia in April 1997. The treaties are a formal way for countries to request help from another for criminal investigations.

Instead, Australia has worked directly with law enforcement agencies in other countries, which is faster. Jurisdiction for a cybercrime case will depend on where the evidence is located, he said.

It also works directly with companies. Google is very cooperative with law enforcement and Facebook is also cooperative, but to a lesser degree, Marden said. Google is very protective of its data and its own clients, he said.

The AFP also has reciprocal agreements with Microsoft and Yahoo to provide data pursuant to Australian legislation, but only where there is an Australian focus, he said.

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