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Cybercrime treaty moves closer

PARIS, France -- The Council of Europe has moved a step closer to finalising an international treaty on cybercrime.

The council's parliamentary assembly voted on Tuesday to hand the text to experts to write a final draft.

After two hours of debate, the assembly recommended that the final version do more to safeguard Internet users' freedom and offer countries the option of adding measures to fight against online racism.

Drafted over four years by representatives of the 43-nation council, the convention covers the destruction of data or hardware -- such as the damage caused by the devastating Love Bug virus -- as well as online child pornography, copyright theft and other Internet crimes.

The treaty, now in its 25th draft, is expected to be opened for signature before the end of the year.

Draft versions have come under attack from those who worry the treaty could give governments too much power to crack down on Internet users' freedom while hunting for cyber criminals.

Critics have attacked the treaty for leaving out provisions to fight online racism.

Much of Tuesday's debate focused on whether to add such measures, a Council of Europe spokeswoman said.

She added that some of the parliamentary assembly's members expressed concerns that the United States, which often stresses freedom of expression over measures to fight hate speech, would not sign the treaty if such a measure were added.

But the group rejected the proposal.

Instead, members recommended drafting a non-binding anti-racism protocol that could be accepted or rejected by individual countries.

The United States, along with Canada, Japan and South Africa, has been working with the council to develop the treaty, and will have the right to sign on once it is ratified.



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RELATED SITES:
Council of Europe
Cybercrime on the Internet

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