On August 3rd, the US Senate ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cyber-crime, a treaty intended to harmonize computer crime laws and make it easier for law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crimes in cyberspace.
In the US, a two-thirds majority of the Senate must approve a treaty for it to be ratified. Since the US House of Representatives does not vote on ratifications, various US administrations have seen treaties as a useful way to get around House opposition to a legislative agenda.
US critics of the treaty have focused on different aspects of the convention than Canadian activists, largely because most of the provisions of the treaty to ease cyber-investigations have already become law in the United States. Meanwhile, the Canadian Parliament will likely reintroduce a bill to ratify the treaty in Canada this fall, after an earlier bill, the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act, died on the order paper in December 2005.
Notably, the US did not ratify the additional protocol to the treaty, which concerns hate speech. Many American legislators believe the protocol would run afoul of strong US constitutional freedom-of-speech provisions.
For the full text of Council of Europe Convention on Cyber-crime, see:
Text of the 2005 version of the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act is at:
Summary by: Jason Young