Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The global solution for Cybercrime?

The Council of Europe (COE) has said it will present its Convention on Cybercrime as the global solution to cybercrime at the United Nations (UN) congress on crime prevention and criminal justice. The UN will hold its 12th congress on crime prevention in Salvador,  late April. 

"The UN Crime Congress in April 2010 will be an opportunity to reinforce our global response to the global threat of cybercrime and cyberterrorism,” said COE Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio. “I think we will have the best chance to succeed if we unite around one international instrument which already exists – namely the Convention of Cybercrime.” 

The COE - an intergovernmental organisation overseeing human rights in 47 countries - organised its own cybercrime conference last week in Strasbourg. bringing together 300 cybercrime experts from some 60 countries, the private sector and international organisations. Here, the COE called for a worldwide implementation of its Convention on Cybercrime to continue legislative reforms already underway in a number of countries. 

“The Convention should be implemented globally. Since [the COC] requires authorizing legislation in each member country, it puts an additional burden on each member country to pass the implementing legislation,” said Kevin A. Thompson, Attorney at Davis McGrath LLC. “With global implementation wrongdoers cannot hide beyond the reach of the law. It's time for the Internet to move beyond the ‘Wild West’ model.”

Participants also recommended that a global action plan should be launched by the COE and the UN to get a clearer picture of criminal justice capacities and how cybercrime should be tackled. “Internet knows no borders. Fraud and crime do not have a geographical address”, said Ivan Koedjikov, Head of the Department of Information Society and Action Against Crime at the COE. “The law of which country to apply? The only meaningful response to cybercrime is global. There must be a minimum understanding of all countries about cybercrime, about similar procedures to prevent, prosecute and punish such crime.” 

Participants to the Strasbourg conference also urged the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to strengthen its oversight role of the internet domain name registration process in order to allow the protection of private data of individual registrants, as well as the opportunity for law enforcement agencies to use the database to fight cybercrime and cyberterrorism.

The Convention on Cybercrime Treaty has been ratified by 27 countries so far, among them the US, France, Germany and Italy. Another 100 countries are using the treaty as the basis for their national legislation. The call for a global approach came in the same week American and Canadian researchers have traced an extensive cyber-espionage network back to China – which has not signed up to the Treaty. It targeted computers in several countries, including systems used by the Indian Government and army. Although the UK has signed but not yet ratified the Convention on Cybercrime, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has recently set up a new cyber enforcement team. “Online consumer protection is a key priority for the OFT”, said Heather Clayton, Senior Director at the OFT. “The enforcement team will be looking at the activities of a wide range of commercial websites and taking action in cases where consumers’ rights are being abused.”

Michiel Willems - 2010 - Published earlier in E-Commerce Law & Policy magazine