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U.N. Cybercrime Convention Enters Critical Stage

Negotiations for a U.N. cybercrime convention have reached a critical stage at the fourth round of discussions in Vienna. Delegates from over 150 states have met for over 100 hours to discuss the proposed convention, which has been met with skepticism from some states, nongovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders. States are strongly divided on the understanding of what “cybercrime” means and the title of the convention, with Russia pushing for a notably broad title full of risks. The outcome of the negotiations will have a significant impact on the fight against cybercrime and internet freedoms.

Authoritarian states attempted to use the negotiations as an opportunity to exert political control, pushing for the removal of certain human rights and due process safeguards from the draft convention.

Concerns and skepticism: The United Nations has taken on an ambitious project to adopt a global cybercrime treaty in only two years, however, this project has been met with skepticism from some states, nongovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders. Karine Bannelier, Associate Professor of International Law at the University Grenoble Alps (France) and a Senior Fellow on Cybercrime, in a piece published in Lawfare, highlights concerns that the treaty could lead to the fragmentation of the fight against cybercrime due to the existence of other key instruments, and worry that authoritarian countries could use it to control information and restrict internet freedoms and human rights.

Negotiations have been marked by disagreements since the start, with member states divided on the definition of ‘cybercrime’ and the name of the convention. Russia, which initiated the process, suggests the convention be titled “Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes,” a broad title with open-ended terminology. This proposal has been met with resistance from other states.

What’s next: This April, the Ad Hoc Committee will convene in Vienna to discuss the remaining 60 articles of the convention. Key discussion topics include international cooperation, technical assistance, and information/data exchange. In August, states will meet in New York for a third reading of the draft convention. It is hoped that the text can be finalized during this meeting, so that it can be formally approved at a concluding session in New York in February 2024.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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