The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has committed £100,000 to implementing the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime, a set of standardised rules for policing electronic crime.
The Council of Europe, a separate organisation from the European Union focused on law and human rights, first drafted the treaty in Budapest in 2004, with the intention of harmonising electronic crime laws across European countries and beyond.
Countries that ratify the treaty, known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, are obliged to ban activities such as hacking, distributing child pornography and intellectual property theft. It has been ratified by 43 countries including the UK, Canada the US and Japan – but not Russia or China.
The Foreign Office said that the £100,000 investment would fund workshops and other activities to strengthen legislation, training for law enforcement agencies and judiciary, and promotion of public-private cooperation and international cooperation.
"At the London Conference on Cyberspace, I made clear that the rapid rise of cybercrime is a growing threat to people across the world and I made clear the need for coordinated response to improve security, enhance cooperation between states and ensure a collective undertaking to address this threat," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. "I am therefore delighted that the UK will be supporting the Council of Europe Global Project on Cybercrime to further implementation of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime."
In September last year, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan proposed their own international treaty on cybercrime to the United Nations.
In contrast to the Budapest convention, it called on nation states to “cooperate in … curbing dissemination of information which incites terrorism, secessionism, extremism or undermines other countries’ political, economic and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment.”
As demonstrated at last year’s London Conference on Cybercrime, the Internet and its regulation have become one front in the diplomatic battle between the US and its allies on one side, and China and its allies on the other.