Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime
The Convention on Cybercrime, or the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, was the first international treaty that sought to deal with online safety by establishing uniform laws, improving reporting protocols, and creating greater cooperation among nations. This Convention specifically targets illegal access, interception, interference, misuse, forgery, and fraud using computer systems or networks. In March 2006, the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime came into effect, requiring states to make it a crime to use computer systems to spread racist material, threats, or insults. As of March 2014, forty-two states have adopted the Convention. An additional eleven states have signed the Convention, but not ratified it. The United States Senate also ratified the Convention in August 2006, which became effective in January 2007. The terms of the Convention address virtually all online activity. Do you participate in one or more social media networks? Do you post to online discussion sites? Do you manage, operate, or participate in a blog? If so, the terms of the Convention may affect the content you can legally post online. You should contact us in order to discuss how these regulations affect your online activity.
This was the first attempt by the international community to address online crimes. The specific focus was on copyright infringement, computer fraud, online hate crime, breach of network security, and child pornography. The international community aimed to protect against cybercrimes by adopting legislation and generating a network of international cooperation. For example, it seeks to create a more uniform legal standard to address cybercrimes, so that detecting and prosecuting crimes can be more efficient. The states that have signed the treaty effectively agree to provide one another access to stored computer data, to preserve such data as necessary, and to prosecute related criminal activity.
In fact, some groups in the United States opposed ratification of the Convention, explaining that it threatened certain Constitutional protections. For example, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) issued a statement in 2005 explaining that the terms allowed for a dangerous expansion of law enforcement authority to investigate potential violations. EPIC explained that this posed a serious threat to individual privacy. Additionally, as news has spread that the Chinese may be hacking into U.S. cyber networks, certain weaknesses in the Convention have come through. Specifically, the Convention does not have provisions to address the monitoring and prosecuting of cyber-hacking or cyber espionage. Technology does evolve quickly and it is difficult to keep up with the changes. Nonetheless, if an international convention is to effectively address cyber threats, it must be able to address the most immediate dangers.
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