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April 4, 2018

“Not Transparent”: NGOs Hit Out at Cybercrime Convention Talks

Signatories want all discussion documents to be public

By CBR Staff Writer

A consortium of nearly 100 civil society groups has raised concerns over “multiple challenges for transparency and accountability”, as the Council of Europe prepares to update its “Budapest Convention” on cybercrime.

The Convention is the only binding international instrument on cybercrime.

It serves as a guideline for countries that are developing national legislation, as well as a framework for international cooperation between state actors on the issue. It has been ratified by 57 countries, including the US, Israel, Japan, Germany and the UK.

The pending “Second Additional Protocol” is currently under discussion at the Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY) of the Council of Europe.

The Council hopes to finalise it late next year.

But in a letter to the Council, the 94 signatories – which include NGOs in the US, Philippines, South America and Europe – urged a sharp increase in transparency.

“The current negotiation raises multiple challenges for transparency, participation, inclusion and accountability. This is firstly due to the far broader geographic range of the countries likely to be impacted by the final agreement and, secondly, by the current arrangements for access to documents and consultation,” the signatories said.

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The updated convention includes guidance on cross-border access to data by law enforcement authorities.

According to the terms of reference for the negotiations, this may include: “Direct cooperation with service providers in other jurisdictions with regard to requests for subscriber information, preservation requests, and emergency requests”.

The letter, coordinated by European Digital Rights (EDRi), comes amid concern among signatories over the US CLOUD act, which streamlines law enforcement access to data held on servers overseas.

Critics have said the legislation raises significant privacy concerns.

The signatories have urged the default publication of all discussion documents: “This should be insisted upon by the Council of Europe, to uphold its exemplary tradition of transparency and inclusion. Exceptions should be individually justified and internally reviewed.”

The Council says that it has been clear about its intention for “close interaction with civil society” via its regular Octopus Conferences.

Cybercrime legislation must be transparent to societies says public interest organisations


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