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  • Voltaire Staff

Rights collective urges UN panel to consider revision in draft cybercrime treaty

A coalition of more than 40 civil societies and international digital rights organisations has jointly approached the ad hoc United Nations committee on cybercrime, urging it to make changes in some of its provisions.

Their collective plea seeks to prompt a re-evaluation of certain provisions within the current draft treaty undergoing examination by member nations.

The coalition involves prominent names like Access Now, Human Rights Watch, and Privacy International. Other organisations part of it are United States Council for International Business (USCIB), CyberPeace Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Global Partners Digital, among others.

In a letter, which has been reviewed by the Economic Times, the collective raised concerns over powers the draft treaty sought to grant to sovereign nations.

"Allowing individual states to arbitrarily define what activities fall under the treaty’s scope would also inevitably lead to human rights violations and criminalize legitimate activity," it said.

Addressed to the committee's chair, the letter highlights concerns regarding the draft treaty's broad scope, its definitions and provisions related to criminalization, and the lack of "protections for good-faith cybersecurity researchers and others acting in the public interest."

During the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in January 2020, a resolution was passed to establish the UN Ad-Hoc Committee.

Its purpose is to develop a thorough international convention aimed at addressing criminal activities involving the use of information and communications technologies.

The UNGA decided to create an "open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts" from all regions. This committee would come together to discuss and decide on creating an international convention to combat cybercrime worldwide.

The committee, in its draft treaty on cybercrime, suggested that all member nations should implement laws and actions to preserve electronic data, such as traffic data, content data, and subscriber information, for up to 90 days.

It proposed that all member nations should modify their domestic laws to "empower its competent authorities to seize or similarly secure electronic data in its territory."

Civil societies and human rights organizations have warned that such a proposal carries a significant risk of enabling broad global data collection under the pretext of combating cybercrime.

Last year, during April meeting of the ad hoc committee, India suggested that all signatory members should permit other countries to request phone numbers, email addresses, subscriber information, and traffic data of their residents.

This information would be necessary for certain cybercrime investigations and legal proceedings, it argued.

India has also suggested the establishment of a 24/7 global communication channel among countries to address the increasing cases of phishing.





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