Tuesday, April 01, 2008

EU Debates Cybercrime Law Enforcement [International]

One of the beauties, if you can call it that, of organized crime is that while the criminal organizations of the world respect none of the boundaries that we call jurisdictions and countries, and by definition, the rule of law must respect those boundaries. These criminals, whether they are the traditional mob that we all know and love or the terrorist organizations bent on the destruction of civilization as we know it, have for more than a decade or two have known about and exploited this fact.

Two groups working separately to boost Europe's defenses against online crime will present proposals this week, almost a year after most of the nation of Estonia's links to the Internet were disrupted for days or weeks. At a two-day conference starting today in Strasbourg, France, the Council of Europe will to review implementation of the international Convention on Cybercrime and discuss ways to improve international cooperation.

Cyber defense also will be on the agenda when heads of state from NATO's 26 member nations gather in Bucharest Wednesday for three days. The leaders are expected to debate new guidelines for coordinating cyber defense.

The Convention on Cybercrime, a binding treaty ratified by most members of the 47-nation Council of Europe, provides guidelines to protect computer users against hackers and Internet fraud.

The controversial agreement also covers electronic evidence used in prosecution of such offenses as child sexual exploitation, organized crime and terrorism. At this week's conference, the council will discuss guidelines to bolster the convention to improve cooperation between investigators and Internet providers, according to the council's Web site.

Participants and speakers at the conference — including police officials and representatives of technology companies such as Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc., McAfee Inc. and Symantec Inc. — also will address training.

NATO's three-day summit, which is to focus on enlarging the treaty organization and on its operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, will include a special briefing on cyber defense, according to the treaty organization's Web site.

Some cybercrime experts are casting current Internet security challenges in terms of terrorism, while others remain focused on data loss, identity theft and fraud.

Privacy advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union and others are concerned that the Cybercrime Convention presses businesses and individuals to aid law enforcement in new ways and subjects them to surveillance that violates the U.S. Constitution.

President Bush signed the treaty in 2003 and the U.S. Senate ratified it in 2006. The convention has been ratified by 21 other nations.

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