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Why the cybercrime treaty is privacy-invasive and worrisome, by James Plummer
Politech coverage from two months ago:
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: for POLITECH - Cybercrime treaty
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 11:48:38 -0500
From: James Plummer <email@example.com>
I wanted to send you a copy of a piece I wrote last month for Human Events
Online about the Convention on Cybercrime for Politech. I don't think this
issue is getting enough attention in the "electronic civil liberties"
community. If any of your readers want to get more involved in this issue,
I invite them to please contact me.
*Senate Must Reject Cybercrime Treaty*
by James Plummer
Posted Dec 08, 2005
An internationalist assault on the sovereignty of the United States and the
privacy of U.S. citizens is currently awaiting action by the full Senate.
The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime is being aggressively pushed
by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), who reported
the treaty out from his committee in early November. That should come as
little surprise, in that Lugar has also been a leading proponent of the
better-known Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), another key building-block in the
structure of world government.
Originally conceived as a tool to facilitate international cooperation in
the pursuit of computer hackers and the like, the Cybercrime Treaty evolved
during 15 years of negotiations to encompass any criminal offense that
involves electronic evidence -- which in the 21st century is essentially
As written, it could require more surveillance on Americans who have been
accused of violating the laws of foreign countries -- even if they haven't
violated U.S. law. Treaty cheerleaders paint menacing pictures of hackers
and child pornographers. But in reality the Convention is drafted so
broadly that it encompasses virtually every area of law where the
possibility exists of computerized evidence. That could affect thousands of
innocent people, including not only political dissidents, but also the
Fortunately, one heroic, albeit currently anonymous, conservative senator
has placed a "hold" on this Cybercrime Convention, a procedural maneuver
that prevents an immediate, unannounced vote on the floor of the whole
Senate. Conservatives concerned with sovereignty and the Bill of Rights
need to both become aware and raise others' awareness of the dangers posed
by the Cybercrime Treaty, lest the Senate acquiesce in this subjugation of
Americans to European-style "hate speech" laws through an electronic back
Lugar's pro-treaty rhetoric belies the broad, expansionary nature of the
treaty. He claimed last year, in opening the sole hearing on the treaty,
that "Prompt ratification . . . will help advance the security of
Americans." That is simply not the case when one considers that the treaty
could allow European or even Chinese Communist agents to electronically spy
on innocent Americans.
And make no mistake, greater control over what we do on the Internet is the
goal of the Eurocrats so enamored with global government. This is what
Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio had to
say in mid-November at the "World Summit on the Information Society," hosted
by that great human rights champion, Tunis: "The Information Society is
clearly in need of a global governance mechanism. The Council of Europe,
with its unchallenged human rights expertise, political consultation
structures, and solid relationship with civil society, must be party to
discussions undertaken at every step of the way concerning internet
governance and human rights," she said.
The European view of "human rights" includes the shielding from mere
criticism of certain protected minorities such as abortionists, third-world
immigrants, and homosexuals. The London Times reports that the European
Commission has announced its first list of mandatory continent-wide criminal
laws and will soon seek to add speech-based crimes such as incitement to
hatred to the list. (France has in the past fined California's Yahoo! for
an American customer's auction of a vintage Nazi war medal.) De
Boer-Buquicchio and other Eurocrats regard the Cybercrime Treaty as one of
those "global governance mechanisms" by which to enforce these views. She
even went on to press for greater ratification of the Cybercrime Treaty in
the very same speech.
And so it is no wonder that many leading conservatives have called on the
Senate to hold serious, open hearings on this treaty. Leaders from American
Conservative Union, Eagle Forum, and Free Congress Foundation, among others,
wrote to the Senate in June urging real hearings on these important
But despite these concerns, Lugar has put the treaty on the Senate calendar
without conducting serious, probative hearings or investigations, calling
only *pro forma* hearings and inviting only treaty supporters from the
Justice and State Departments to testify.
It's little wonder that the hearings were rigged. An open discussion of the
issues at stake could cause many senators to cast a skeptical eye on the
treaty, raising as it does many bipartisan concerns similar to those that
have stalled expansion of the USA PATRIOT Act in the upper body as of late.
Though the treaty is replete with mutual assistance in electronic
surveillance, not one of the articles mention privacy.
Most egregious in Lugar's ratification report to the full Senate is the
voluntary declaration that foreign governments, under the fig leaf of
"urgency," be able to order American law enforcement agencies to enforce
their orders without judicial review. So even though these foreign orders
may be opposition to the U.S. Constitution, no U.S. judge will be able to
enforce the Constitution to prevent it. The treaty also has no "dual
criminality" requirement, which means federal law enforcement agencies could
be investigating Americans for constitutionally-protected activities which
offend European sensibilities.
Even worse, the Cybercrime Treaty is open to all nations to ratify. That
means a future leftist President could even allow Communist China to sign on
to the treaty and direct U.S. law enforcement to investigate Chinese
dissidents, even Americans, based in the United States.
The Convention on Cybercrime would be highly detrimental to American
sovereignty and free people everywhere. The Senate should under no
circumstances blindly approve such a document.
Copyright (c) 2006 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.
Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jan 30, 2006
in category privacy
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