U.S. Joins Council of Europe Convention on Computer-Based Crime

Washington - The United States is now a party to the Council of Europe (COE) Convention on Cybercrime, the only multilateral treaty that specifically addresses the problem of computer-related crime and electronic evidence gathering, the White House announced September 29.

President Bush signed the instrument of ratification on September 22 and it was deposited at the COE headquarters in Strasbourg, France, on September 29.  The convention will enter into force for the United States on January 1, 2007.

The convention requires parties to criminalize certain conduct that is committed against computer systems such as unauthorized intrusions (hacking) and the spreading of viruses or worms.  Parties also must criminalize the use of computers to engage in traditional crimes such as forgery, fraud, the production and distribution of child pornography and intellectual property rights abuses.

Another goal of the cybercrime convention is ensuring that parties have the ability to investigate computer-related crime effectively and to collect electronic evidence regarding other criminal offenses, such as terrorism, organized crime and violent crimes.

The U.S. Senate approved the ratification of the COE Convention on Cybercrime in August. (See related article.) 

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in announcing that the United States is now a party to the convention, said it offers “a global approach to the global problem of computer crime.  The United States urges all states to consider joining the Convention.”

During a an online discussion in April, Daniel Larkin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation described the work of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), where people from all over the world can file complaints about Internet crime. (See related article.)

The U.S. Helsinki Commission has called for broader international cooperation in fighting the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet. (See related article.) 

For more information about U.S. efforts to fight cybercrime in cooperation with foreign law enforcement authorities, see the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Web site on its Cyber Crime Center, and the FBI Web sites on cybercrime and intellectual property and its program to fight online child pornography.

A fact sheet on the Convention on Cybercrime is available on the State Department Web site. The full text of the convention is available on the Council of Europe Web site.