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Computer Crime - International Initiatives

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Computers can operate globally. Thus, the perpetrator of a computer crime can affect the computers of another country without leaving home. As stated by Attorney General Janet Reno, "[a] hacker needs no passport and passes no checkpoints." The global nature of the Internet raises a host of international questions, such as what should be considered computer crime and who will have the jurisdiction to prosecute such crime. There are also issues regarding how evidence necessary for a criminal prosecution may be obtained. Mutual assistance treaties between countries often assist in procuring necessary evidence from other countries that may be needed for a criminal prosecution within the United States.

Although the Internet operates internationally, there is no uniformly accepted set of international laws that criminalize computer misuse and abuse. Several international conferences and initiatives, however, have focused on computer crime.

The Council of Europe (COE), an international organization with more than forty member countries, has been at the forefront in promoting international cooperation regarding computer crime. Mutual assistance in the investigation of cybercrime is also a discussion topic of the Group of Eight (G-8) countries (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, and Russia). In May 1998, the G-8 countries adopted a set of principles and an action plan to combat computer crimes.

Other international initiatives also have considered computer-related issues. For example, consumer protection policies have been formulated through the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD"). Computer crime issues have also been discussed in international forums such as the Vienna International Child Pornography Conference. Additionally, the United Nations produced a manual on the prevention and control of computerrelated crime. The manual stresses the need for international cooperation and global action.

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