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Incident Response by Richard Forno, Kenneth R. van Wyk

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Legal Resources

Around the world, computer crime laws are a nebulous area. From a legal perspective, they are a new type of jurisprudence. While it is certainly imperative to address such matters effectively, countries that have attempted to do so are in the minority. Most countries have no computer crime laws -- as evidenced with the May 2000 ILOVEYOU incident that failed to be prosecuted in the Philippines, as that nation had no computer crime laws. This, coupled with the chaotic nature of the international system and the Internet, makes it all the more challenging to prosecute a suspect, particularly in a country without computer crime laws. However, in early 2001, the Council of Europe -- with input and participation from the United States -- made public its latest draft of the European Convention on Cybercrime (COE). The COE document is the most recent attempt to codify international standards of cooperation when investigating computer crimes.

As usual in international affairs, cooperation among nations is a challenging prospect. The same can be said for the legal and law enforcement communities. However, some of the COE treaty’s provisions are generating substantial controversy in the United States and elsewhere. As an example, under the current COE document, French law enforcement could serve a subpoena to the United States FBI to monitor, seize evidence, or arrest an ordinary U.S. citizen who publishes Hitler’s Mein Kampf (a banned book in France) on his U.S.-based website, ...

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