Russia-pushed UN Cybercrime Treaty may rewrite global law. It’s … not great

Special report United Nations negotiators convened this week in Vienna, Austria, to formulate a draft cybercrime treaty, and civil society groups are worried.

“We are here for the fifth session on the negotiations of this new treaty on cybercrime, which will have the potential to drastically redraft criminal law all around the world,” said Thomas Lohnninger, executive director of Austria-based tech policy group, in a media briefing on Thursday about the treaty negotiations.

“It represents a tectonic shift because of its global nature when it comes to the cross border access to our personal information.”

The UN Cybercrime Treaty, to the extent it gets adopted, is expected to define global norms for lawful surveillance and legal processes available to investigate and prosecute cybercriminals. And what has emerged so far contemplates [PDF] more than 30 new cybercrime offenses, with few concessions to free speech or human rights.

This fifth negotiating session involves representatives from more than 100 member states trying to come up with draft chapters covering international cooperation, technical assistance, cybercrime prevention, implementation details and other provisions.

This Ad Hoc intergovernmental committee met for the first time on February 28 last year, and a sixth session is planned for August, in New York, followed by a seventh session in January, 2024, when the finalized draft of the convention is scheduled to be delivered for consideration by the UN General Assembly.


Katitza Rodriguez, policy director for global privacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, explained that

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