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Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), An Advocacy Handbook for the Non Governmental Organisations: The Council of Europe’s Cyber-Crime Convention 2001 and the additional protocol on the criminalisation of acts of a racist or xenophobic nature committed through computer systems, December 2003. This report has been revised and updated in October 2005.

The Cyber-Crime Convention 2001 and its additional protocol has been developed by the Council of Europe, an international and well respected organisation with a primary mission to strengthen democracy, human rights, and the rule of law throughout its member states. Although the Cyber-Crime Convention states in the preamble that a proper balance needs to be ensured between the interests of law enforcement and respect for fundamental human rights, the balance resolutely and regrettably favours the former.

 While the CoE’s concerns in relation to cyber-crimes and its desire to address criminal law and mutual assistance in criminal matters are shared by many, any co-ordinated policy initiative at an international level should ideally aim to offer the best protection for individual rights and liberties. Lamentably, this has not been the case. 

This advocacy handbook for the NGOs provides a policy analysis of the Cyber-Crime Convention 2001 and its first additional protocol from a human rights perspective for policy specialists, NGOs, and human rights activists within the 45 member states of the Council of Europe. Compatibility problems with the European Convention on Human Rights and implications for freedom of expression, privacy of communications and data protection will be the main focus of this critical analysis. The appendices include other useful information that could be relied upon while NGOs and policy activists lobby their individual governments in relation to the implementation of the Cyber-Crime.

The Report is released as a pdf file on 01 December, 2003 (revised and updated in October 2005). Click on the icon or the image below to download. This publication was made possible by a grant from the Open Society Institute Information Policy Programme.


Recent News

Entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

Strasbourg, 18.03.2004 ?The Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime will enter into force following its ratification today by Lithuania as the 5th country. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, has welcomed this important step in the international fight against cybercrime, and has encouraged more countries to ratify the agreement. The Council of Europe is planning a major international conference on “The Challenge of Cybercrime? which will bring together senior politicians, computer industry leaders and experts from around the world in Strasbourg from 15 to 17 September 2004.

“The Convention on Cybercrime is a ground-breaking agreement which will play a key role in fighting computer-related crime. Cybercrime is a major global challenge which requires a co-ordinated international response - I therefore urge all of those Council of Europe member states which have not yet signed or ratified the convention to do so as a matter of priority,?said the Secretary General.

Lithuania ratifies the CyberCrime Convention(18.03.2004)

Strasbourg, 18.03.2004 - Ambassador Neris Germanas, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the Council of Europe, today handed to Walter SCHWIMMER the instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cybercrime. Following this ratification, the treaty will enter into force on 1st July 2004 for Albania, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary and Lithuania.

Hungary ratifies the CyberCrime Convention(04.12.2003)

George W. Bush Message to the Senate of the United States on the CyberCrime Convention, 17 November, 2003

With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (the "Cybercrime Convention" or the "Convention"), which was signed by the United States on November 23, 2001. In addition, for the information of the Senate, I transmit the report of the Department of State with respect to the Convention and the Convention's official Explanatory Report.

The United States, in its capacity as an observer at the Council of Europe, participated actively in the elaboration of the Convention, which is the only multilateral treaty to address the problems of computer-related crime and electronic evidence gathering. An overview of the Conventions provisions is provided in the report of the Department of State. The report also sets forth proposed reservations and declarations that would be deposited by the United States with its instrument of ratification. With these reservations and declarations, the Convention would not require implementing legislation for the United States. The Convention promises to be an effective tool in the global effort to combat computer-related crime. It requires Parties to criminalize, if they have not already done so, certain conduct that is committed through, against, or related to computer systems. Such substantive crimes include offenses against the "confidentiality, integrity and availability" of computer data and systems, as well as using computer systems to engage in conduct that would be criminal if committed outside the cyber-realm, i.e., forgery, fraud, child pornography, and certain copyright-related offenses. The Convention also requires Parties to have the ability to investigate computer-related crime effectively and to obtain electronic evidence in all types of criminal investigations and proceedings.

By providing for broad international cooperation in the form of extradition and mutual legal assistance, the Cybercrime Convention would remove or minimize legal obstacles to inter-national cooperation that delay or endanger U.S. investigations and prosecutions of computer-related crime. As such, it would help deny "safe havens" to criminals, including terrorists, who can cause damage to U.S. interests from abroad using computer systems. At the same time, the Convention contains safeguards that protect civil liberties and other legitimate interests.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Cybercrime Convention, and that it give its advice and consent to ratification, subject to the reservations, declarations, and understanding described in the accompanying report of the Department of State.


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