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Watching the Web: Thoughts on Expanding Police Surveillance Opportunities Under the Cyber-Crime Convention

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 46 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2004 Pages: 597-606
Laura Huey; Richard S. Rosenberg
Date Published
October 2004
10 pages
This article explores the implications of the Convention on Cybercrime (CC), an international agreement that facilitates the investigation of crimes committed through the Internet.
The Council of Europe and four non-member states, Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States, signed the CC in November 2001. Under the CC, law enforcement is granted new powers of search and seizure, including the power to compel Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to have intercept technology that assures access to data transmissions. Additionally, ISP’s are mandated under the CC to assist law enforcement in the storage and search of data and to release general information concerning their customers. The authors argue that the requirements of the CC are part of a larger policing trend in which the private sector is used as an extension of law enforcement reach. By compelling ISP’s to participate in a law enforcement function, the CC represents a threat to the privacy of Internet users at the same time it places a heavy burden on private businesses. While other countries have struggled with the legality of such a move, the PATROIT Act in the United States already expanded surveillance powers, including the right to gain certain data from ISP’s. The CC has the potential to expand the state’s surveillance powers beyond the purview of the PATRIOT Act and into the personal and private territory of online transmissions. The CC is thus an abuse of the trust that individuals place in the Internet as a medium of personal exchange. Notes, references