Senate ratification of cybercrime treaty praised

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Information security industry groups today praised the U.S. Senate over its ratification late Thursday of the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime treaty, hours before Congress broke for a month-long recess.

The U.S. became the 16th nation to ratify the convention, the first international treaty that addresses the need for standardized laws and global cooperation in fighting computer crimes. Forty-three nations have signed the treaty.

While the U.S. already has laws on the books that comply with the treaty's guidelines, the nation can now leverage its power to encourage the remaining 27 nations – which have signed by not approved the pact - to ratify, said Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA).

"We're very pleased," he said this morning. "There is so much business that the Senate was trying to get done before they leave for recess, and there is only so much time. Now we can be more vocal with countries in Europe and countries elsewhere around the world," to ratify.

The treaty is necessary because many countries have differing laws in regard to cybercrime, some much more lax than others, Kurtz said. The convention provides a "baseline of laws" that must be in place.

The convention "promotes a unified approach among nations to ratify similar laws against hacking, computer-facilitated fraud, child pornography, copyright infringement and other crimes committed through digital means," according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

"The problem has been in investigating cybercrime," Kurtz said. "A cybercriminal might reside in a country that doesn't have the right laws. You can't investigate and prosecute them properly."

Kurtz and BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman credited Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign relations and ranking member Sen. Joseph R. Biden, D-Del., with helping the treaty get approved before Congress takes recess until around Labor Day.

"Given the global nature of the internet, the only way we can combat these problems effectively is through cooperation with other governments," Lugar said in a statement today.

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