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[FYI] France Urges Ban on 'Digital Havens' for Hackers


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Monday May 15 7:08 AM ET  

France Urges Ban on 'Digital Havens' for Hackers  

By Tom Heneghan  

PARIS (Reuters) - The world's leading industrialized states, 
struggling against Love Bug-style computer attacks from the most 
unexpected places, opened a cybercrime conference on Monday with a 
call to prevent lawless ``digital havens'' from springing up around 
the globe.  

French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement, addressing 
officials from the Group of Eight (G8) nations and private industry, 
urged countries to agree on a world convention on cybercrime and 
harmonize their laws to crack down on hackers, virus writers, 
software pirates and other Internet fraudsters.  

Governments and high-tech companies should develop a ''co-
regulation'' of the Internet, he told the three-day conference aimed 
at launching a dialogue on computer security between the public and 
private sectors.  

Drawing a parallel to international measures against tax havens that 
hide hot funds and launder money, Chevenement said a cybercrime 
convention being drawn up by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe 
should become a global treaty.  

``The idea is to produce a global text so there cannot be 'digital 
havens' or 'Internet havens' where anyone planning some shady 
business could find the facilities to do it,'' he said.  

Countries also had to make clear to their citizens that the Internet 
was not a lawless zone, he added.  

``An adolescent should know that, even if he is very gifted in 
computer science, the tricks he can play on the Internet could be 
serious crimes that land him in prison. Internet isn't a toy 

The high-tech blitz that flashed around the world in an e-mail 
entitled ``ILOVEYOU'' this month showed how vulnerable computer 
systems are to attack from anywhere. Unlike earlier viruses from the 
United States and Canada, the ``Love Bug'' was launched from the 
Philippines. The Paris conference, part of longer-term efforts by 
developed countries to fight cybercrime, brought together about 300 
judges, police, diplomats and business leaders from the G8 states -- 
the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada 
plus Russia -- and private high-tech firms.  

G8 leaders will take up its recommendations at their annual 
conference in July in Okinawa.  

Chevenement said he hoped countries such as India, China, South 
Africa, Israel and the East European states would join in the effort. 
In his speech, Chevenement highlighted the trans-Atlantic gap by 
rejecting the idea of an international ``cyberpolice'' supported by 
U.S. officials eager to crack down quickly on computer crime.  

``Nothing could be more wrong,'' he declared. ``Sovereign states can 
develop the capacity to act, first at home and then in international 

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said in a message to the 
conference that ``freedom is the most precious gift the Internet 
brings us.''  

All states should ``fight the digital divide'' between high-tech 
haves and have-nots, he said, but at the same time ''restrain the 
excesses of an unfettered freedom.''  

Cybercrime has risen rapidly in recent years as the World Wide Web 
lives up to its name.  

A recent survey showed total losses to U.S. companies last year more 
than doubled to over $266 million.  

Chevenement said France registered more than 2,500 Internet-linked 
crimes last year ``but that figure surely does not cover all big or 
small infractions.''  

Experts say high-profile attacks like the ones which paralyzed major 
commercial sites like Yahoo! and Amazon.com in February are likely to 
multiply as online services migrate to new platforms such as mobile 

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