Council of Europe pushes for only one cybercrime treaty

An effort to create another international treaty would complicate matters

A European intergovernmental body that oversees the only international cybercrime treaty is advocating that the U.N. supports its efforts to get wider ratification of the treaty.

The U.N. is scheduled to hold its 12th congress on crime prevention and criminal justice in Salvador, Brazil, from April 12 to April 19. The congress is scheduled to discuss cybercrime along with various crime prevention measures.

Cybercriminals will not wait while the international community spends a couple of years figuring out "how to reinvent wheel rather than use and possibly improve upon what is already there," said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, deputy secretary general of the Council of Europe during open remarks at the organization's cybercrime conference on Tuesday.

"I think we will have the best chance to succeed if we unite around one international instrument that already exists," de Boer-Buquicchio said. "The more countries which join it, the better chance we have to gain ground against cybercriminals."

The Council of Europe, created in 1949, oversees human rights issues for its 47 country members. It also is the chief entity behind the Convention on Cybercrime.

The treaty has formed a foundation for global law enforcement of cyberspace, requiring countries to have a representative available 24 hours a day to assist in investigations.

The Council has been working since that time to help countries establish effective computer crime laws. Countries can sign the treaty, and once their laws conform with the treaty, their national legislatures can ratify it.

Progress has been steady but slow. So far 27 countries have ratified the treaty, but more than 100 are using the treaty as a basis for reforming their laws. But legislative procedures take time, which has meant ratifications aren't quick.

Some countries, such as South Africa, are close to ratification, said Alexander Seger, head of the economic crime division at the Council. The Council, which offers legal guidance to countries on how they can develop new laws, is working with Nigeria and other African countries, he said.

"Africa is an important continent for us," he said.

More than 300 law enforcement, industry and other experts are meeting through Thursday in Strasbourg, France, for the Council's cybercrime conference. Among the issues discussed are training for prosecutors and judges in e-crime issues, network abuse concerns, regulation and law enforcement cooperation with Internet governance organizations.

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