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[FYI] (Fwd) ZDNet on GILC COE Letter
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- Subject: [FYI] (Fwd) ZDNet on GILC COE Letter
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- Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 10:01:42 +0100
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Date sent: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 23:36:07 -0500
From: David Sobel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ZDNet on GILC COE Letter
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Wednesday December 13 06:15 PM EST
Cybercrime treaty still doesn't cut it
By Robert Lemos, ZDNet News
The Global Internet Liberty Campaign says the latest iteration of an
international cybercrime treaty falls short of the mark.
A coalition of 22 human rights and public policy organizations say the
Council of Europe's latest draft of an international cybercrime treaty
gives law enforcement too much power and individuals too little.
In a letter to the Council of Europe Secretary General Walter
Schwimmer and the Committee of Experts on Cyber Crime, the Global
Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) said the coalition's concerns, which
prompted the latest revision of the treaty, were not adequately
"To our dismay and alarm, the convention continues to be a document
that threatens the rights of the individual while extending the powers
of police authorities, creates a low-barrier protection of rights
uniformly across borders and ignores highly regarded data protection
principles," coalition members wrote in a letter sent Tuesday.
The Committee of Experts on Cyber Crime is meeting this week in
Strasbourg, France, where it is rewriting the latest version of the
treaty, designed to help the Council of Europe's 41 member nations
fight computer and electronic crime. The final draft of the treaty is
expected to be completed this month and presented for ratification in
While the United States is not a member of the Council of Europe, U.S.
Department of Justice representatives have been actively involved in
the process, having testified at the sessions and advised members of
the committee. Moreover, if the cybercrime treaty is ratified by the
Council of Europe, it is likely that the United States will also sign
Existing laws fall short
Last week, a Washington-based Internet policy consultant, McConnell
International, released a study showing that 33 of 52 nations surveyed
did not have adequate laws to deal with electronic or computer crimes.
Only the Philippines -- which recently changed its laws to fill gaps
illuminated by the LoveLetter worm -- had addressed the 10 critical
areas pinpointed by the study.
While no one denies the need for such a treaty, the tech industry and
civil rights organizations still have reservations about the current
David Sobel, general counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information
Center, a pro-privacy think tank in Washington that is among the
treaty's critics, said the DOJ's testimony to the council had been
"It's entirely slanted toward law enforcement interests," Sobel
said. "There's definitely not enough attention paid to the privacy
implications of these provisions."
The current version of the treaty would make unauthorized access and
interception of communications illegal, although law enforcement would
have the ability to wiretap international communications. In addition,
the treaty tackles electronic fraud, child pornography, devices that
aid computer crime and extradition of computer criminals.
The GILC raised concerns about the Council of Europe's attempt to
patch the treaty with exceptions that do not go far enough to protect
citizens' rights. It also criticized the treaty's espousing strong
surveillance capabilities for law enforcement without adequate
Others attacked the process, which for the most part has been closed
to the public.
"No one from outside the room can know what the Justice Department is
saying and whose interests they are representing," said James X.
Dempsey, senior staff counsel for the Center for Democracy and
Technology, a tech-policy think tank.
Tech industry opposition
The Internet industry has also taken exception to treaty provisions
that could force them to open corporate networks when requested by law
enforcement and be liable for misuse of their networks.
In November, Yahoo! lost a ruling in France over Nazi memorabilia
being sold on its auction site that could force the portal power to
censor its network in the United States. If ratified, the cybercrime
treaty could cause a flurry of such lawsuits as countries try to
establish borders in cyberspace.
"Clearly, what Yahoo! did is legal in the United States," said Barry
Steinhardt, associate director for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The current version of the cybercrime treaty says that the (United
States) would not have to cooperate if the crime is political. ... Is
what Yahoo! did political? Or a 'crime against humanity,' as the
French call it?"
. David L. Sobel, General Counsel * +1 202 483 1140
(tel) Electronic Privacy Information Center * +1 202 483 1248
(fax) 1718 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Suite 200 * firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC 20009 USA * http://www.epic.org .
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