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IPFS News Link • United Nations

UN Cybercrime Draft Convention Dangerously Expands State Surveillance Powers Without...

•, By Katitza Rodriguez

This is the third post in a series highlighting flaws in the proposed UN Cybercrime Convention. Check out Part I, our detailed analysis on the criminalization of security research activities, and Part II, an analysis of the human rights safeguards. 

As we near the final negotiating session for the proposed UN Cybercrime Treaty, countries are running out of time to make much-needed improvements to the draft text. Delegates meeting in New York July 29 to August 9 are tasked with finalizing the convention's text that, if adopted, could dramatically reshape criminal laws across the world in favor of more and wider surveillance and weaker human rights safeguards.

Countries that believe in the rule of law must stand up and either defeat the convention or dramatically limit its scope, adhering to non-negotiable red lines as outlined by over 100 NGOs. In an uncommon alliance, civil society and industry agreed earlier this year in a joint letter that the treaty as it was currently drafted  must be rejected  and amended to protect privacy and data protection rights—none of which have been made in the latest version of the proposed Convention.

The UN Ad Hoc Committee overseeing the talks and preparation of a final text is expected to consider a revised but still-flawed text  in its entirety, along with the interpretative notes, during the first week of the session, with a focus on all provisions not yet agreed ad referendum. However, in keeping with the principle in multilateral negotiations that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, any provisions of the draft that have already been agreed could potentially be reopened.

An updated draft, dated May 23, 2024, but released on June 14th, is far from settled, though. Tremendous disagreements still exist among countries on crucial issues, including the scope of cross border surveillance powers and protection of human rights. Nevertheless, some countries expect the latest draft  to be adopted.