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CouncilEurope2000

"Crime in Cyberspace
First Draft of International Convention Released for Public Discussion

STRASBOURG, 27.04.2000 - The COUNCIL OF EUROPE today released a draft version of a Convention on crime in cyberspace for public discussion in order to enhance the consultation process with interested parties, whether public or private. Businesses and associations are particularly encouraged to share their comments with the experts involved in the negotiations before the final adoption of the text.

Provisionally entitled "Draft Convention on Cyber-Crime", this Council of Europe text will be the first international treaty to address criminal law and procedural aspects of various types of offending behaviour directed against computer systems, networks or data as well as other similar abuses.

This legally-binding text aims to harmonise national legislation in this field, facilitate investigations and allow efficient levels of co-operation between the authorities of different States.

The text should be finalised by a group of experts by December 2000 and the Committee of Ministers could adopt the text and open it for signature as early as Autumn 2001.

The text of the draft Convention can be found on the following website: http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/projets/cybercrime.htm

More information for editors :

Recent attacks against commercial web-sites, such as Amazon.com, drew international attention to the dangers that the Internet and other computer networks need to face: cyber-criminals and cyber-terrorists threaten business and government interests and may cause colossal damages. Time has come for the Council of Europe to take action, which today released a draft Convention to deal with crime in cyberspace. This document, provisionally entitled “Draft Convention on Cyber-crime”, will be the first ever international treaty to address criminal law and procedural aspects of various types of criminal behaviour directed against computer systems, networks or data and other types of similar misuse.

The draft provides, among others, for the co-ordinated criminalisation of computer hacking and hacking devices, illegal interception of data and interference with computer systems, computer-related fraud and forgery. It also prohibits on-line child pornography, including the possession of such material after downloading, as well the reproduction and distribution of copyright protected material. The draft Convention will not only define offences but will also address questions related to the liability of individual and corporate offenders and determine minimum standards for the applicable penalties.

The draft text also deals with law enforcement issues: future Parties will be obliged to empower their national authorities to carry out computer searches and seize computer data, require data-subjects to produce data under their control, preserve or obtain the expeditious preservation of vulnerable data by data-subjects. The interception of data transmitted through networks, including telecommunication networks, is also under discussion. These computer-specific investigative measures will also imply co-operation by telecom operators and Internet Service Providers, whose assistance is vital to identify computer criminals and secure evidence of their misdeeds.

As computer-crimes are often international in their nature, national measures need to be supplemented by international co-operation. The draft treaty therefore requires future Parties to provide each other various forms of assistance, for example by preserving evidence and locating on-line suspects. The text also deals with certain aspects of trans-border computer searches. Traditional forms of mutual assistance and extradition would also be available under the draft Convention and a network of 24 hours/ day, 7 days/week available national contact points would be set up to speed up international investigations.

The 41-nation Council of Europe has previously produced two recommendations on the question, in 1989 and in 1995, to encourage governments to adapt laws to the challenge of computer-related crime, but later a binding legal instrument was considered necessary to harmonise computer-crime provisions, step up investigations and ensure effective international co-operation among authorities. The draft Convention is expected to be finalised by an expert group by December 2000 and the Committee of Ministers could adopt the text and open it for signature as early as September 2001. Given the importance of the subject, non-member States, such as Canada, Japan, South-Africa and the United States, also actively participate in the negotiations.

By releasing the latest draft of the treaty, the Council of Europe seeks to enhance the consultation process with interested parties, whether public or private. It particularly encourages business and civil society organisations to come forward and share their comments with the experts involved in the negotiations before the text eventually becomes final. "

Commentaries are welcome on : daj@coe.int