U.S. Senate Votes To Ratify Cybercrime Convention

By Carolee Walker
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The U.S. Senate voted on August 3 to ratify the Council of Europe (COE) Convention on Cybercrime, a multilateral treaty addressing the problems of computer-related crime and electronic evidence gathering.

“The Cybercrime Convention - the first of its kind - will be a key tool for the United States in fighting global, information-age crime,” said U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in a statement on August 4.

The treaty provides tools to fight terrorism, attacks on computer networks and the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet, Gonzales said, adding that it will strengthen U.S. cooperation with foreign countries in obtaining electronic evidence.

President Bush requested the Senate ratify the convention, which requires parties to criminalize conduct committed through, against or related to computer systems (See related article.)

Cybercrime, or Internet crime, is illegal activity arising from Web sites, chat rooms or e-mail. Cyber crime includes nondelivery of goods or services, computer hacking or intrusions, intellectual property rights abuses, theft of business trade secrets, online extortion, money laundering, identity theft and a growing list of other Internet-facilitated crimes, according to Daniel Larkin, unit chief of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). (See related article.)

In the United States, the IC3 is a reporting and referral system for Internet crime complaints from people in the United States and around the world.

Forty-six European countries belong to the Council of Europe, founded in 1949. The United States and Japan, Canada, Mexico and the Holy See (Vatican City), are granted observer status on the council, which is different from the European Union.

“The convention is in full accord with all U.S. constitutional protections, such as free speech and other civil liberties, and will require no change to U.S. laws,” Gonzales said. “I congratulate and thank the Senate for its advice and consent, and look forward to having the United States become a party to the convention at the earliest opportunity.”

The full text of Gonzales’ statement is available on the U.S. Department of Justice Web site. The full text of the Convention on Cybercrime and information on the Council of Europe are available on the organization’s Web site.