Civil Society Groups Oppose Computer Crime Convention - NGOs Urge Council of Europe to Adopt Safeguards for Internet Users

Update: New draft of the Convention dated 12 December 2000. It is intended that the Convention will go before the Plenary session of the Council of Europe in June 2001 and then be passed on for adoption to the CoE Council of Ministers. The Council of the European Union has indicated that rather than develop its own policy on this issue it will adopt the CoE Convention:
Text of 22.12.00
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Below is a press release from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Statewatch comments: The Council of the European Union has indicated that it intends to follow the model set by the Council of Europe's draft Convention on Cyber Crime.

"Members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) today (18 October) urged the Council of Europe to reconsider a draft treaty on "Cyber Crime." The international coalition of civil liberties and human rights organizations said the proposal posed a threat to free speech and privacy on the Internet.

The Council of Europe proposed the Cyber Crime treaty in April as part of an effort to strengthen computer crime laws among many countries. The Group of Eight (G8) will be discussing the treaty at a meeting on October 24 in Berlin.

The civil society organizations said that the draft treaty 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."

According to the organizations, the Convention on Cyber Crime would require Internet companies to retain records of customer activity and force Internet Service Providers to review private messages distributed through computer networks. The draft treaty would also criminalize copyright violations and discourage the development of new network security tools.

Other sections would encourage law enforcement access to stored records and encryption keys without sufficient legal safeguards and expand surveillance powers.

The Council of Europe had planned to finalize the convention by December 2000, but the opposition of citizen organizations may slow the process.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC, said today, "government efforts to respond to computer crime must not undermine the political rights of Internet users. Before this treaty proposal goes forward, the Council of Europe must assure the online community that privacy, freedom of expression, and due process of law will be protected."

The Global Internet Liberty Campaign is an international coalition of organizations working to protect and enhance online civil liberties and human rights. Links to member organizations, as well as information about GILC issues and activities are available at"

Text of letter from GILC to Council of Europe: Letter

Text draft Council of Europe Convention on Cyber Crime: Cyber Crime (PDF format)

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