Gathering for the 6th meeting of the quintet, the Attorneys General from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA and England and Wales met in London last week to discuss their joint efforts to combat cybercrime. The Attorneys General also discussed the pressing need to coordinate efforts internationally against nationals travelling to other countries to engage in terrorist activities, and to respond to the risk that they pose upon their return to their home countries.
The Attorney General for England and Wales, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP hosted the annual meeting.
Each Attorney General led discussion on a particular topic related to cybercrime. These included: freedom of expression, social media and contempt of court, privacy and information sharing in cybercrime investigations, the prevalence of cyberbullying and how to respond and the need for international cooperation in cross-border investigations and prosecutions.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve spoke about building capacity in other countries so that they are better equipped to deal with these challenges. The Attorneys General agreed the importance of promoting, internationally, the adoption of legislation, legal frameworks and law reform, based on or consistent with the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest, 2001).
Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC MP said:
Cybercrime is a fast developing and highly relevant subject for this meeting. The expanding use of technology means that the world - our individual countries - our jurisdictions - are interconnected in ways which were never before possible or imagined.
The exchange of experiences and information on approaches here in London has left us better equipped to present a united front against cybercrime.
The Attorneys General agreed the following:
- to ensure that our laws and procedures strike a balance between the right to freedom of expression, the right to privacy, the public interest in the administration of justice and defendants’ right to a fair trial
- that cooperation and sharing of experience amongst the quintet countries is vital to tackling cybercrime. The countries agreed to work to further improve the effectiveness of the mutual legal assistance process in order to achieve this
- to develop a means of coordinating cybercrime capacity building activity across the five countries, to ensure lessons can be learnt from each other’s experiences and approach and seek to adopt best practice
In relation to terrorism, the Attorneys General agreed to further strengthen their work together to deal with the critical issue of foreign fighters traveling to and returning from, areas of conflict including by:
- cooperating to improve the prosecutorial response to those who seek to travel, or who do travel, for the purpose of engaging in terrorism, or who facilitate others traveling for that purpose
- working to support and build resilience among communities
- coordinating capacity building in other countries to help them address this issue, within the context of the rule of law
- exchanging best practice in responding to this threat.
The quintet is an annual meeting of Attorneys General to share experience in dealing with complex and cross-border legal issues.
The attendees were:
Senator the Hon George Brandis QC – Attorney General, Australia
Hon Peter Gordon MacKay PC QC MP - Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Canada
Hon Christopher Finlayson QC MP - Attorney General, New Zealand
Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP - Attorney General, England and Wales
Hon Eric H Holder Jr - Attorney General, United States of America.