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[FYI] (Fwd) Ireland: EU draft cyber crime treaty spells trouble

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Fri, 20 Oct 2000 18:32:31 -0400
From:           	David Banisar <banisar@privacy.org>
Subject:        	Ireland: EU draft cyber crime treaty spells trouble
To:             	Global Internet Liberty Campaign <gilc-plan@gilc.org>
Send reply to:  	gilc-plan@gilc.org

-------------------- Original Message Follows --------------------

Irish Times

Friday, October 20, 2000

EU draft cyber crime treaty spells trouble

NET RESULTS: All the hard work the Government and private industry
have done to turn the Republic into one of the more attractive
European locations for technology companies and electronic business
risks being lost because of a Council of Europe draft treaty on cyber

As it now stands, the draft Convention on Cyber Crime introduces many
of the elements of Britain's notoriously oppressive Regulation of
Investigatory Powers Bill. This set of laws has been condemned almost
unanimously by British business, and privacy and civil rights groups.

At issue is the degree of power on surveillance it hands to law
enforcement agencies to monitor company e-mail and phone calls
without a warrant, its restrictions on the use of encryption by
businesses and individuals, and the guilty-'til-proven-innocent
nature of some of its provisions.

For months, debate has raged in parliament and elsewhere over the Bill
and the British government has been forced to backtrack on several of
its provisions. The law is still so repressive that it is expected to
be challenged immediately in the European Court of Human Rights.

By contrast, the Republic's set of laws governing e-commerce gives
strong and specific protections for the use of encryption, while
taking a light regulatory approach overall. Both international
business and privacy advocacy groups have positively and publicly
noted the restraint of the Irish approach.

The Convention on Cyber Crime could end up over-riding the
pro-privacy and supportive e-commerce environment that exists as a
result of our E-commerce Act. According to the Global Internet Liberty
Campaign, an international coalition of civil liberties and human
rights groups, the treaty could require Internet service providers to
examine private e-mail messages and mandate that Internet companies
retain records of customer activity.

The campaign is also worried that the treaty expands surveillance
powers unacceptably, without safeguards on privacy and civil rights,
and could give law enforcement bodies access to encryption keys.

In a statement, the campaign said the convention as it stands is
"contrary to well established norms for the protection of the
individual, that it improperly extends the police authority of
national governments, that it will undermine the development of
network security techniques, and that it will reduce government
accountability in future law enforcement conduct".

Although the E-commerce Act dealt with some areas of relevance, the
Department of Justice must design a set of laws to cover cyber crime,
and the current process in Europe will influence those regulations.
Laws on cyber crime can either dovetail with the e-commerce laws or
introduce a punitive and damaging regulatory climate similar to that
in Britain.

Given that the Government knows full well it is benefiting from
international business concerns about the British situation, it would
be ironic if we were to bring in the same environment, either through
new laws of our own making or via a European treaty.

The Republic should lead the way in opposing the existing draft
treaty and concerned individuals and businesses should mount a strong
lobbying effort at both the national and European level. For more
information see www.gilc.org or www.epic.org.

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