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Democracy and Technology Blog Ratify the Cybercrime Convention

It is already against the law in the U.S. to interfere with someone else’s computer or commit traditional crimes with the aid of a computer, however many countires have gaps in their criminal laws governing computer-related crimes and have become havens for cyber-criminals. Another problem is that electronic evidence of crime is difficult for law enforcers to locate and secure when it crosses borders. A treaty is awaiting final Senate approval that would fully criminalize computer-related offenses in other countries and require each country to have the power to quickly preserve and disclose stored computer data, compel the production of electronic evidence by ISPs, to search and seize computers and data, and to collect traffic data and content in real time. These evidence-gathering and surveillance powers are already provided for under U.S. law.
The Convention on Cybercrime has been criticized on the ground that it could allow a foreign country to collect evidence or eavesdrop in the U.S. — on who knows what? — via “mutual assistance.” But the evidence-gathering and surveillance powers are subject to conditions and safeguards under domestic law that protect civil liberties, such as the First Amendment.
The Senate should ratify the treaty, which will promote an international minimum baseline in computer-related criminal offenses and law enforcement tools.

Hance Haney

Hance Haney is Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.