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UK finally ratifies Cybercrime Convention during Obama visit

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President Obama and UK prime minister David Cameron agreed to work more closely on cybersecurity following a meeting between the two government leaders on Wednesday.

The UK underlined this commitment with a much-delayed ratification of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. The convention, which embodies a commitment to harmonise national cybersecurity laws, has been ratified by 30 countries including the US and many European states since it came into force in 2004. The UK signed the treaty in 2001 but never ratified it, a status it shared with 15 other countries. The convention aims to harmonise law and foster co-operation in areas including computer-aided fraud, hacking, distribution of child abuse images and copyright infringement.

Although the only international treaty of its type and held up as a gold standard for cybercrime investigation techniques and international co-operation, the convention is not without its critics. Chief among their criticisms is that unless Russia and China sign up to the treaty, its reach will be limited.

Critics include Eugene Kaspersky, founder of Kaspersky Labs, and Hamadoun Touré, director of the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU), who wrote a paper pointing out problems with the adoption of the treaty outside Europe back in 2009 that is still relevant today (PDF).

The UK government's decision to ratify the treaty comes in the run-up to an International Cyber Conference, due to take place in London this November. ®

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