Russia has presented a draft convention to the United Nations, ostensibly to fight cybercrime.
The proposal, entitled “United Nations Convention on Combating the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes”, [PDF] calls on Member States to develop national laws to punish a much broader set of offenses than recognized by current international rules.
Russia, the ransomware hotbed whose cyber spies have been accused of attacking US and allied networks, did not accede to the 2001 Budapest Convention on Cybercrime because it allowed cross-border operations, which it said. considers it a threat to national sovereignty.
Russian media outlet Tass also said the 2001 rules are flawed because they only criminalize nine types of cyber crimes. Russia’s new draft convention, submitted last week, sets out 23 cybercrimes for discussion.
Russia’s proposed rule extension, for example, calls for national laws to criminalize altering digital information without authorization – “unauthorized intentional interference with digital information by damaging, deleting, altering, blocking, modifying or copying digital information “.
The project also calls on member states to formulate national laws prohibiting unauthorized malware scanning – “the intentional creation, including adaptation, use and distribution of malware intended for destruction, blocking, unauthorized modification, copying, dissemination of digital information or bypassing of its security features, except for lawful research. “
It would prohibit “the creation and use of digital data to mislead the user”, such as deep forgery – “the intentional and illegal creation and use of digital data that could be confused with data already known and reliable of a user that cause substantial harm. “
The proposal also contemplates a broader basis for extradition by stating that, where national law allows, listed cybercrimes should not be considered “political offenses” (mainly exempt from extradition under current international conventions) .
The United States looks forward to an open, transparent and inclusive process for the review of this new global treaty
The Biden administration has called for improved cybersecurity and, following the recent US-Russia summit, may be inclined to engage with Russia at the UN to change the wording of the proposal so that it is compatible with American standards and political objectives.
“UN member states initiate negotiations for a new global treaty to combat cybercrime, which should take into account and preserve existing international agreements,” said a spokesperson for the US State Department . The register in an email.
“This process is still in its infancy and states have only recently established the procedures and rules for treaty negotiations. The first negotiation session on the substance of a new treaty will take place in early 2022. “
“The United States looks forward to an open, transparent and inclusive process for the review of this new global treaty. This submission from the Russian Federation is one of many expected contributions from member states to this process.
Via TwitterDr Lukasz Olejnik, independent cybersecurity researcher and consultant, noted that the draft convention prohibits online communications calling for “subversive or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of another state’s regime,” and requires service providers they provide “technical assistance” which usually means providing a back door to the authorities.
“This is another attempt in the longer history of such projects attempted for submission by Russia,” said Olejnik, a former cyberwar adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.
Russia, he said, has been submitting such proposals regularly for some time, citing a similar project from 2011.
“This new proposal is particularly important, it is essentially a comprehensive proposal for a treaty on cybercrime or cybersecurity,” said Olejnik. “While it is clear that cybersecurity is high on the national and international political agenda (think of the recent Biden-Poutin meeting in Geneva as a good example), the proposal includes a number of contentious points that would be rather difficult to swallow for many Western countries and societies, in particular clauses such as those which could potentially restrict freedom of speech, expression or the press. “
Olejnik said the draft rules called for technical backdoors in network systems, wiretapping capabilities and potential technical censorship.
Where Western countries are concerned with “cybersecurity,” he said, Eastern countries tend to focus on “information security,” which often encompasses press and social media. .
“I don’t think the project has a particularly big chance, at least from today, but with the UN political process, who knows what will happen in a few months,” Olejnik said. ®