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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 16:00 GMT
New net crime accord
Cyber crime graphic, BBC
Thirty countries have signed an international convention on curbing criminal use of the internet.

The convention, approved at a meeting in the Hungarian capital Budapest, covers many aspects of cyber-crime, from terrorism to credit card fraud and child pornography.

Child porn web site, BBC
The convention will crack down on child pornography
It is the latest and most far-ranging attempt to harmonise new laws being passed in many countries against internet abuse.

A BBC correspondent at the meeting says there have been concerns that increased policing might infringe the rights of internet users.

The convention is the result of long consultations among governments, police forces and the computer industry.

It was drawn up by legal experts from the Council of Europe, with important help from other countries, notably the United States.

Methods of investigating internet crimes are defined and signatories promise to cooperate more closely to fight abuses.

Human rights concerns

The convention tries to strike a balance between the suggestions of police forces and the concerns of human rights groups, industry and internet service providers.

Human rights groups fear that individual privacy will be reduced in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the United States.

Large banks and industries are worried that their own security failings will be made public, and internet service providers are concerned that they will be asked to store vast amounts of data at their own expense for future investigations by crime-fighting authorities.

As a result, the convention is a compromise, but has been applauded by many as an important step forward.

More protocols will be added to it in future, including one on ways to prevent the dissemination of racist messages on the internet.

See also:

21 Jul 01 | World
US targets cyber-crime
21 Jun 01 | Americas
Child web users are sex targets
12 Apr 01 | Business
Net fraud scam foiled
11 May 00 | Americas
Tackling cyber crime
04 Sep 01 | South Asia
Virtual police tackle net crime
17 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Hackers get backdoor access
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