Feeds

Council of Europe drops plans to ban hacking tools

Human rights watchdog told proposals are unworkable

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Council of Europe has scrapped controversial plans to ban the use of "hacking" tools by IT professionals, after industry groups successfully persuaded it that the proposals were unworkable.

The proposals were contained in a draft of the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime, which is intended to provide a framework to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to collaborate internationally.

The Council of Europe, which includes 41 European countries, was founded as a human rights watchdog in 1949. As such it is influential in developing a continent-wide agreements that standardise member countries' social and legal practices in tackling crime on the Internet.

Original proposals by the council would have made it illegal to distribute tools or discuss techniques that look for weaknesses in the security of systems, for example software used to scan the perimeter of networks for security vulnerabilities. This provoked fierce opposition because it would ban tools used in security audits as well as those used by hackers.

Philip Virgo, secretary general of industry lobby group Eurim, whose members include IT suppliers and heads of security at blue chip firms, said the latest version of the treaty, which is being discussed by a working group in Berlin today, has dropped the idea.

"The original wording has changed markedly so that it now permits the use of tools for security purposes," said Virgo, who added that after many revisions the treaty was reaching its final form.

Virgo added that industry lobbying had shifted the scope of the treaty away from "obsession with surveillance" onto issues like hacking and cyber-vandalism that is of more concern to IT professionals.

He added that users were far more keen to take effective steps against another Love Bug virus, which he compared to putting a concrete block on a railway line, than seeing more surveillance.

However, despite the changes, the treaty continues to attract criticism from European politicians, including Diana Wallis MEP, Liberal Democrat Internet spokesperson in the European Parliament, who argued it could lead to a Europe-wide version of the UK's controversial email snooping powers. ®

Related Stories

Politicians line up against Euro email snooping laws

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Fiendishly complex password app extension ships for iOS 8
Just slip it in, won't hurt a bit, 1Password makers urge devs
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?