No new cybercrime laws needed says EU chief

Mixed message as EU draws up new cybercrime "strategy"

The European Union's Foreign Affairs chief said on Thursday that the Internet does not need a raft of new legislation while continuing her plans to present a new Europe-wide "strategy" on cybercrime law.

Speaking at the Cyberspace Conference in Budapest, E.U. High Commissioner Catherine Ashton said that existing international laws such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Geneva Convention, should be sufficient. "We should find ways to apply the principles of those commonly accepted laws also in this new domain, rather than starting to draft new ones," she said.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees the right to privacy, right to freedom of expression and sanctions against enticement to hatred, while the Geneva Convention safeguards the rule of law during wartime.

When it comes to addressing cybercrime, she said the Budapest Convention is the "most efficient international instrument."

The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is an international treaty aimed at combating cybercrime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing international cooperation. It was drawn up by the Council of Europe together with Canada, Japan and China.

The convention deals with all forms of online criminal activity including copyright infringement, computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security.

Despite Ashton's words that new laws are not needed, she is involved with drawing up a Cyber Security Strategy for the E.U. due to be presented before the end of this year. The aims of this new strategy are remarkably similar to the Budapest Convention. According to the European Commission, the strategy "intends to harmonize the readiness of E.U. countries to deal with the security challenges in cyberspace."

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