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Because cybercrime cuts across national borders, there has been a growing urgency to develop international rules to allow countries to work together to track down and prosecute cybercriminals. EUROPE TAKES THE LEAD Only days ago, the Committee of Experts on Crime in Cyberspace submitted its draft “convention” on cybercrime for consideration by the European Committee on Crime Problems at its upcoming meeting toward the end of June. The convention, which could become the international model for combating cybercrime, could be adopted later this year and ratified by European member states over the next several years. The draft convention gives law enforcement officials great authority to hunt down suspected perpetrators of online crime across borders, and perhaps beyond what the law would allow in certain countries. Despite some protests, the draft convention also imposes requirements on Internet service providers to maintain data that might be linked to criminal activities. The draft convention attempts to address prior privacy complaints by adopting language that subjects privacy protection to judicial and other independent supervision. While the draft convention is not perfect, it certainly marks a step in the right direction. MOTIVATION AND URGENCY The explanatory report accompanying the draft convention puts in proper perspective the important need for international rules to fight crime on the Internet. In doing so, the report accurately describes the criminal “dark side” of the information technology revolution: “[T]he consequences of criminal behavior can be more far-reaching than before because they are not restricted by geographical limitations or national boundaries. The recent spread of detrimental computer viruses all over the world has provided proof of this reality. Technical measures to protect computer systems need to be implemented concomitantly with legal measures to prevent and deter criminal behavior.” On the legal front, the report properly explains why rules must be developed at the international level, and not only at the national level: “The new technologies challenge existing legal concepts. Information and communications flow more easily around the world. Borders are no longer boundaries to this flow. Criminals are increasingly located in places other than where their acts produce their effects. However, domestic laws are generally confined to a specific territory. Thus, solutions to the problems posed must be addressed by international law, necessitating the adoption of adequate international legal instruments. The present convention aims meet this challenge. … “ GOALS AND SPECIFIC PROVISIONS The draft convention has three principal goals: (1) harmonization of the criminal laws of different countries with respect to cybercrime; (2) development of procedural legal powers necessary for investigation and prosecution of such criminal laws; and (3) establishment of a “fast and effective regime of international cooperation.” The following cybercrime offenses are defined by the draft convention: illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, computer-related forgery, computer-related fraud, offenses related to child pornography, and offenses involving copyright and associated rights. The draft convention provides for the following procedural powers: expedited preservation of stored data, expedited preservation of and partial disclosure of traffic data, production orders, searches and seizures of computer data, real-time collection of data, and interception of content data. Provisions covering mutual assistance and extradition rules are also contained in the draft convention. NOT THE LAST WORD While the draft convention is not the final word on how countries can learn to work together to thwart crime on the Internet, as further modifications and other international cooperative efforts emerge, the draft convention does represent a step in the right direction. Plainly, old world legal criminal models do not fully apply in cyberspace. Eric J. Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris, where he focuses on technology and litigation matters. His Web site is sinrodlaw.com and his firm’s site is Duane Morris.

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