The Cyber-Crime Convention in Trouble
The European Council's Cyber Crime Convention revised draft, presented a few weeks ago, is once again causing controversy. This time, though, it is not just privacy campaigners and the IT industry who attack the Convention's provisions and drafting process. It is the governments themselves who are falling victim to the absurdity of the security ideology. The Convention's Article 3 demands national legislation against illegal interception of non-public computer networks, but entitles individual governments to exemption if these activities are not done with "dishonest intent". As pointed out in an article released by quintessenz, this exemption seems to allow for the economic spying carried out by governments through ECHELON, as it reflects Britain's and the US' line of legitimising ECHELON. It is the differences around the applicability of Article 3 that now seem to have become a stumbling block. The adoption of the Convention, previously scheduled for December, will not occur before at spring next year.
THE CYBER COP´S DREAM
In the meantime, the concerned governments face no lesser task than deciding whether the use of Echelon for economic espionage is a "dishonest" purpose as defined in the Convention, reminiscent of a thieve drafting insurance documents. It is not the first time the Convention gets entangled in its own pitfalls either. Ever since the Council began its work, the Convention has given rise to serious allegations concerning its incompatibility with basic human and civic rights, very much to the confusion of the experts, in whose dictionaries of technical standards "freedom of expression" and "right to privacy" do not occur. This is hardly surprising, as no democratically elected representatives took part in the drafting of the Convention. After all, the metaphysics of security defines the black hole in any democracy.
This document, intended to combat criminal activities by providing international standards and procedures for intercepting telecommunications, has therefore staggered along from one draft to the next like a heavily armed warrior pressed down under the weight of his weaponry, and guided by "kill it if it moves" logic: illegal MP3 files or other documents copied from the Internet without explicit agreement of the author would be enough to warrant communications monitoring by the police. In Article 18, police are allowed to "collect or record" data sent through computer systems, and even oblige service providers to release log files and install provisions for real-time monitoring.
Before Governments will decide whether they want to declare themselves cyber criminals to be prosecuted under the Convention, some more time will pass. Whether this ambivalent situation will be met with more authority or more democracy will depend on how effective a critical voices can make themselves heard.
Global Internet Liberty Campaign