It is now publicly acknowledged by academics, participating law enforcement officials and business representatives that a range of threats including specific kinds of malicious activities undertaken by insiders, hackers, virus writers need to be globally criminalized. More importantly, this range of criminalized activity has to be extended to organized crime and internal corruption within the law enforcement itself. It is always important to take note of the fact that the best of laws are useless and can even be counterproductive and dangerous if they are not fairly and effectively enforced.
The problems that hinder international cooperation in the aspect of cybercrime include:
- the lack of agreement on what actually constitutes a cybercrime
- an ineffective and inefficient law enforcement and judicial system
- inadequate legal powers for investigation and access to computer systems or networks and seizure of intangibles such as computerized data
- the lack of harmonization between the different procedural laws concerning the investigation of cybercrimes within nations
- the lack of mutually beneficial treaties among nations
- the lack of a harmonized global law enforcement mechanism that would facilitate cooperation among nations.
It is clear that a well-developed network of international cooperation is required to fight cybercrime. Amidst increasing pressure from within and outside, many countries united their anti-cybercrime efforts through a proposed treaty known as the "Convention on Cybercrime." Countries involved in the drafting process include the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and the 43 member nations in the Council of Europe.
The Cybercrime Treaty is an internationally accepted law enforcement regime that has made it easier for countries to get aid and evidence from other countries and to prosecute foreign nationals within the country. It simultaneously aims to tackle all the problems mentioned above which hamper cyberlaw enforcement.
The treaty has three aspects, all of which are targeted at setting basic cyberlaw standards for all nations.
Firstly, it requires nations to outlaw unauthorized usage or intrusion of protected computer; malware transmission; and the use of a computer as a tool to commit acts which are not cybercrimes per se, i.e. fraud, copyright infringement distribution of child pornography, terrorism etc.
Secondly, nations are required to standardize procedures implemented for capturing and retrieving online and other forms of information. "Retention orders" to "freeze" data on any computer have to be issued by all nations. There is also a need to capture in real time the origin and time of all traffic on all networks, including telephone networks.
Thirdly, it is necessary for national governments to cooperate with one another in sharing electronic evidence across borders. This is probably the most effective means by which criminals will be deterred altogether as they will not find refuge in any country. This cooperation requirement is actually supposed to apply to all crimes that can cross borders - not only cybercrimes.
Other than tackling the problem at the judicial and global level, the problem should also be tackled at its very roots. The real reason why so many youths are attracted to the world of cybercrimes is the lack of transparency regarding this issue. The media either keeps quiet about cybercrime levels in the country or glorifies to the point by means of Hollywood movies that more and more youths find it highly desirable and “cool” to be labeled a cybercriminal. Strict laws together with this lack of transparency may actually worsen the problem because cybercrime will merely be seen as the Forbidden Apple of Eden. However, the media cannot be fully blamed as cybercrime is a new issue and it will take time for its existence to be fully accepted and acknowledged by all. It is crucial to spread information about the truths of cybercrimes, how they are carried out and what penalties await perpetrators. Once it becomes a widely known and accepted issue, cybercrime will lose its appeal and henceforth, the law will only have true criminals to deal with.
Cybercrime is indeed getting the recognition it deserves. However, it is not going to curbed that easily. In fact, it is highly likely that cybercrime and its perpetrators will continue developing and upgrading to stay ahead of the law.
Fighting cybercrime – challenges for the European Parliament
Cybercrime Treaty Underway
Global alliance to tackle computer criminals