ricardo dominguez on 16 Mar 2001 12:33:31 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Tech Industry Members Criticize Cyber-crime Treaty

CYBER CRIME: Tech Industry Members Criticize Cyber-crime Treaty

BY: Drew Clark

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Internet companies and privacy groups on Wednesday
presented a united front against what they say is harsh treatment of civil
liberties in an international treaty designed to combat cyber crime.

In the kickoff panel of the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference, Jim
Halpert, an attorney for NetCoalition and the Commercial Internet
Exchange, and David Banisar, deputy director of Privacy International,
joined with London School of Economics professor Gus Hosein to criticize
the treaty, which was drafted by the Council of Europe and is scheduled to
be voted on next month.

The latest draft includes detailed requirements giving police new power to
conduct electronic surveillance, as well as numerous sections devoted to
intellectual property crime, computer fraud, computer hacking, child
pornography and even anti-competitive conduct.

"This law is very specific about law enforcement powers that need to be
adopted and entirely vague about privacy protection," said Halpert, who is
also an attorney with Piper, Marbury, Rudnick and Wolfe. "It is a process
that has not been open to different viewpoints -- even different
ministerial viewpoints within government."

"Everything in this law is slanted," said Banisar, who also works as a
senior fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "If law
enforcement can get this adopted in a significant number of countries,
they will have significantly more powers to do all kinds of things in the
[United States]."

Even if the United States did not need to change its laws to comply with
the treaty, if the United States ratified the treaty, it would be required
to help other signatories enforce their own laws against whatever they
define as "cyber crime." If countries without strong human rights
protections were to sign on, the United States could be required to
extradite foreign dissidents for acts that are not against U.S. law,
Banisar said.

The Council of Europe, a 41-nation body created after World War II that is
independent of the European Union and retains lawmaking authority, is
drafting the treaty. The council began working on a treaty in 1997, but
its discussions were conducted in secret and no drafts of their efforts
were available until April 2000.

Draft 25 of the treaty was issued in December, and members of the
committee writing it have said they would not accept further
modifications, notwithstanding an "explanatory memorandum" issued in
February that appeared to diminish some concerns held by Internet service
providers that they would be held liable for the actions of others.

But Halpert said there would be two more meetings of the drafting
committee before the scheduled April adoption of the treaty, and he is
hopeful that the Justice Department will encourage further modifications.

"The Department of Justice has been keen on this treaty but realistic that
there are political concerns, and they have begun to work hard to change"
them, he said.

National Journal's Technology Daily March 7, 2001

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