Saturday, November 12, 2005

Another Possibly Meaningless Treaty? Cybercrime Convention Nears Passage in Senate

The U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee reported out the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention on Thursday. I don't know enough about cybercrime to know if this Convention is important (See here for a primer), but it is worth noting that the treaty does not appear to require the U.S. to modify any of its domestic laws. All of the treaty's requirements appear to be already reflected by existing U.S. criminal laws (see here for the President's Letter of Submittal to the Senate) and the U.S. has reserved to any departures from existing U.S. law, including existing state law, in a familiar "Federalism Reservation" that I discussed earlier here in another context.

In an earlier post, I called these kinds of treaties "possibly meaningless" because, on the U.S. side, they don't require any action by the U.S. government or any alteration of existing U.S. law. But this is obviously an exaggeration. The real significance of this treaty will be to serve as a focal point for other countries to modify or alter their laws governing cybercrime, which is still a relatively new area of law. From a purely U.S. perspective, though, the treaty is a no-brainer, since it doesn't require any U.S. action but might get other countries to alter their laws and behavior. That's a good deal if you can get it.


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