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Investigation Tool: Knowledge

Computer Crime:

The U.N. Manual adapted by Editor Micheal J. O'Brien


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Introduction [Go To Table Of Contents]

The burgeoning of the world of information technologies has a negative side: it has opened the door to antisocial and criminal behaviour in ways that would never have previously been possible.

Computer systems offer some new and highly sophisticated opportunities for law-breaking and they create the potential to commit traditional types of crimes in non-traditional ways. In addition to suffering the economic consequences of computer crime, society relies on computerized systems for almost everything in life, from air, train and bus traffic control to medical service coordination and national security. Even a small glitch in the operation of these systems can put human lives in danger. Society's dependence on computer systems, therefore, has a profound human dimension.

The rapid transnational expansion of large-scale computer networks and the ability to access many systems through regular telephone lines increases the vulnerability of these systems and the opportunity for misuse or criminal activity. The consequences of computer crime may have serious economic costs as well as serious costs in terms of human security.

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1. When future historians scrutinize the second half of the twentieth century, they will be reviewing what is sure to be known as the Information Revolution. Humankind has progressed further in the last 50 years than in any other period of history. One of the reasons for this rapid advance in technology is the computer. Technological capabilities have increased at an accelerating pace, permitting ever larger and more sophisticated systems to be conceived and allowing ever more sensitive and critical functions to be assigned to them.1

2. Indeed, the world is undergoing a second Industrial Revolution. Information technology today touches every aspect of life, irrespective of location on the globe. Everyone's daily activities are affected in form, content and time by the computer. Businesses, Governments and individuals all receive the benefits of this Information Revolution. While providing tangible benefits in time and money, the computer has also had an impact on everyday< life, as computerized routines replace mundane human tasks. 2 More and more of out businesses, industries, economies, hospitals and Governments are becoming dependent on computers. Computers are not only used extensively to perform the industrial and economic functions of society but are also used to perform many functions upon which human life itself depends. medical treatment and air traffic control are but two examples. Computers are also used to store confidential data of a political, social, economic or personal nature. They assist in the improvement of economies and of living conditions in all countries. Communications, organizational functioning and scientific and industrial progress have developed so rapidly with computer technology that our form of living has changed irreversibly.

3. With the computer, the heretofore impossible has now become possible, The computer has allowed large volumes of data to be reduced to high-density, compact storage, nearly imperceptible to the human senses, It has allowed an exponential increase in speed, and even the most complex calculations can be completed in milliseconds. The miniaturization of processors has permitted worldwide connectivity and communication. Computer literacy continues o grow.

4. The burgeoning of the world of information technologies has, however, a negative side: it has opened the door to antisocial and criminal behaviour in ways that would never have previously been possible. Computer systems offer some new and highly sophisticated opportunities for law-breaking, and they create the potential to commit traditional types of crimes in non-traditional ways. In addition to suffering the economic consequences of computer crime, society relies on computerized systems for almost everything in life, from air, train and bus traffic control to medical service coordination and national security. Even a small glitch in the operation of these systems con put human lives in danger. Society's dependence on computer systems, therefore, has a profound human dimension. The rapid transnational expansion of large-scale computer networks and the ability to access many systems through regular telephone lines increases the vulnerability of these systems and the opportunity for misuse or criminal activity. The consequences of computer crime may have serious economic costs as well as serious costs in terms of human security.


A. The international problem
5. Laws, criminal justice systems and international cooperation have not kept pace with technological change. Only a few countries have adequate laws to address the problem, and of these, not one has resolved all of the legal, enforcement and prevention problems.

6. When the issue is elevated to the international scene, the problems and inadequacies are magnified. Computer crime is a new form of transnational crime and effectively addressing it requires concerted international cooperation. This can only happen, however, if there is a common framework for understanding what the problem is and what solutions there may be.

7. Some of the problems surrounding international cooperation in the area of computer crime and criminal law can be summarized as follows:

  1. The lack of global consensus on what types of conduct should constitute a computer-related crime;

  2. The lack of global consensus on the legal definition of criminal conduct;

  3. The lack of expertise on the part of police, prosecutors and the courts in this field;

  4. The inadequacy of legal powers for investigation and access to computer systems, including the inapplicability of seizure powers to intangibles such as computerized data;

  5. The lack of harmonization between the different national procedural laws concerning the investigation of computer-related crimes;

  6. The transnational character of many computer crimes;

  7. The lack of extradition and mutual assistance treaties and of synchronized law enforcement mechanisms that would permit international cooperation, or the inability of existing treaties to take into account the dynamics and special requirements of computer-crime investigation.


B. Regional action
8. Examination of these questions has already occurred to some degree at the international and regional levels. In particular, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe have produced guidelines for policy makers and legislators.

9. In 1983, OECD undertook a study of the possibility of an international application and harmonization of criminal laws to address the problem of computer crime or abuse. In 1986, it published Computer-Related Crime: Analysis of Legal Policy, a report that surveyed the existing laws and proposals for reform in a number of Member States and recommended a minimum list of abuses that countries should consider prohibiting and penalizing by criminal laws, for example, computer fraud and forgery, the alteration of computer programmes and data and the copyright and interception of the communications or other functions of a computer or telecommunication system. A majority of members of the Committee on Information, Computer and Communications Policy also recommended that criminal protections should be developed for other types of abuse, including the theft of trade secrets and unauthorized access to, or use of, computer systems.

10. Following the completion of the OECD report, the Council of Europe initiated its own study of this issue with a view to developing guidelines to assist legislators in determining what conduct should be prohibited by the criminal law and how this should be achieved, having regard for the conflict of interest between civil liberties and the need for protection. The minimum list of OECD was expanded considerably by adding other types of abuses that were recommended as deserving of the application of the criminal law. The Select Committee of Experts on Computer-Related Crime of the Committee on Crime Problems examining these questions also addresses other areas, such as privacy protection, victims, prevention, procedural issues such as the international search and seizure of data banks, and international cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of computer crime. Recommendation R(89)9 of the Council of Europe on computer-related crime, which contains guidelines for national legislatures, was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 13 September 1989.

11. In 1992, OECD developed a set of guidelines for the security of information systems, which is intended to provide a foundation on which States and the private sector may construct a framework for the security of information systems. In that same year, the Council of Europe began a study that will concentrate on procedural and international cooperation issues related to computer crime and information technology.

Top C. The need for global action
12. Despite these international efforts, much remains to be accomplished in order to achieve international cooperation. While much of the international work has so far been centered in western European and OECD countries, the potential extent of computer crime is as broad as the extent of the international telecommunication systems. All regions of the world must become involved in order to prevent this new form of criminality.

13. Ensuring the integrity of computer systems is a challenge facing both developed and developing countries. It is predicted that within the next decade, it will be necessary for developing nations to experience significant technological growth in order to become economically self-sufficient and more competitive in world markets. As dependence on computer technology grows in all nations, it will be crucial to ensure that the rate of technological dependence does not outstrip the rate at which the corresponding social, legal and political frameworks are developing. It is important to plan for security and crime prevention at the same time that computer technology is being implemented.

14. The participation of both developed and developing nations in international computer-crime initiatives is an encouraging trend. For example, the three associated conferences on computer crime at Wurzburg in October 1992 were attended by delegates from Africa, Asia, eastern and western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America. An adequate response to computer crime requires that both developed and developing nations should encourage regional and international organizations to examine the issue and promote crime prevention programmes on a national level.

15. This strategy is necessary, both immediately and in the long term, to ensure international cooperation and to foster the political will to create a secure information community and the universal criminalisation of computer crime.

Top D. Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders
16. Following the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, which took place in 1985, the Secretary-General prepared a report entitled "Proposals for concerted international action against forms of crime identified in the Milan Plan of Action" (E/AC.57/1988/16). Computer crime was discussed in paragraphs 42-44 of that report.

17. In preparation for the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, the Asia and Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting indicated concern with the effects of technological progress, as reflected in computer crimes (A/CONF.144)RPM.2).

18. At the 12th plenary meeting of the Eighth Congress, which took place in 1990, the representative of Canada introduced a draft resolution on computer-related crimes on behalf of the 21 sponsors. At its 13th plenary meeting, the Congress adopted the resolution, in which it, inter alia, called upon Member States to intensify their efforts to combat computer crime by considering, if necessary, the following measures:

  1. "Modernization of national criminal laws and procedures, including measures to:

  2. Improvement of computer security and prevention measures, taking into account the problems related to the protection of privacy, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and any regulatory mechanisms pertaining to computer usage;

  3. Adoption of measures to sensitize the public, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to the problem and the importance of preventing computer-related crimes;

  4. Adoption of adequate training measures for judges, officials and agencies responsible for the prevention, investigation, prosecution and adjudication of economic and computer-related crimes;

  5. Elaboration, in collaboration with interested organizations, of rules of ethics in the use of computers and the teaching of these rules as part of the curriculum and training in informatics;

  6. Adoption of policies for the victims of computer-related crimes which are consistent with the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, including the restitution of illegally obtained assets, and measures to encourage victims to report such crimes to the appropriate authorities." 5

19. In its resolution, the Eighth Congress also recommended that the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control should promote international efforts in the development and dissemination of a comprehensive framework of guidelines and standards that would assist Member States in dealing with computer-related crime and that it should initiate and develop further research and analysis in order to find new ways in which Member States may deal with the problem of computer-related crime in the future. It also recommended that these issues should be considered by an ad hoc meeting of experts and requested the Secretary-General to consider the publication of a technical publication on the prevention and prosecution of computer-related crime.

I. The Phenomenon of Computer Crime


A. Definition of computer crime
20. It is difficult to determine when the first crime involving a computer actually occurred. The computer has been around in some form since the abacus, which is known to have existed in 3500 B.C. in Japan, China and India. In 1801 profit motives encouraged Joseph Jacquard, a textile manufacturer in France, to design the forerunner of the computer card. This device allowed the repetition of a series of steps in the weaving of special fabrics. So concerned were Jacquard's employees with the threat to their traditional employment and livelihood that acts of sabotage were committed to discourage Mr. Jacquard from further use of the new technology. A computer crime had been committed.

21. There has been a great deal of debate among experts on just what constitutes a computer crime or a computer-related crime. Even after several years, there is no internationally recognized definition of those terms. Indeed, throughout this paper the terms computer crime and computer-related crime will be used interchangeably. There is no doubt among the authors and experts who have attempted to arrive at definitions of computer crime that the phenomenon exists. However, the definitions that have been produced tend to relate to the study for which they were written. The intent of authors to be precise about the scope and use of particular definitions means, however, that using these definitions out of their intended context often creates inaccuracies. A global definition of computer crime has not been achieved; rather, functional definitions have been the norm.

22. Computer crime can involve criminal activities that are traditional in nature, such as theft, fraud, forgery and mischief, all of which are generally subject everywhere to criminal sanctions. The computer has also created a host of potentially new misuses or abuses that may, or should, be criminal as well.

23. In 1989, expanding on work that had been undertaken by OECD, the European Committee on Crime Problems of the Council of Europe produced a set of guidelines for national legislators that enumerated activities that should be subject to criminal sanction. By discussing the functional characteristics of target activities, the Committee did not attempt a formal definition of computer crime but left individual countries to adapt the functional classification to their particular legal systems and historical traditions.

24. The terms "computer misuse" and "computer abuse" are also used frequently, but they have significantly different implications. Criminal law recognizes the concepts of unlawful or fraudulent intent and of claim of right; thus, any criminal laws that relate to computer crime would need to distinguish between accidental misuse of a computer system, negligent misuse of a computer system and intended, unauthorized access to or misuse of a computer system, amounting to computer abuse. Annoying behaviour must be distinguished from criminal behaviour in law.

25. In relation to the issue of intent, the principle of claim of right also informs the determination of criminal behaviour. For example, an employee who has received a password from an employer, without direction as to whether a particular database can be accessed, is unlikely to be considered guilty of a crime if he or she accesses that database. However, the principle of claim of right would not apply to the same employee who steals a password from a colleague to access that same database, knowing his or her access is unauthorized; this employee would be behaving in a criminal manner.

26. A distinction must be made between what is unethical and what is illegal; the legal response to the problem must be proportional to the activity that is alleged. It is only when the behaviour is determined to be truly criminal that criminal prohibition and prosecution should be sought. The criminal law, therefore, should be employed and implemented with restraint.

Top B. The extent of crime and losses
27. Only a small portion of crimes come to the attention of the law enforcement authorities. In his book Computer Security, J. Carroll states that "computer crime may be the subject of the biggest cover-up since Watergate". While it is possible to give an accurate description of the various types of computer offences committed, it has proved difficult to give an accurate, reliable overview of the extent of losses and the actual number of criminal offences. At its Colloquium on Computer Crimes and Other Crimes against Information Technology, held at Wurzburg, Germany, from 5 to 8 October 1992, AIDP released a report on computer crime based on reports of its member countries that estimated that only 5 per cent of computer crime was reported to law enforcement authorities.

28. The number of verifiable computer crimes is not, therefore, very high. This fact notwithstanding, authorities point out that the evidence of computer crime discernible from official statistical sources, studies and surveys indicates the phenomenon should be taken seriously.

29. The American Bar Association conducted a survey in 1987: of 300 corporations and government agencies, 72 claimed to have been the victim of computer-related crime in the 12-month period prior to the survey, sustaining losses estimated to range from $ 145 million to $ 730 million. In 1991, a survey of security incidents involving computer-related crime was conducted at 3,000 Virtual Address Extension (VAX) sites in Canada, Europe and the United States of America. Seventy-two per cent of the respondents said that a security incident had occurred within the previous 12-month period; 43 per cent indicated that the security incident they had sustained had been a criminal offence. A further 8 per cent were uncertain whether they had sustained a security incident. Similar surveys conducted around the world report significant and widespread abuse and loss.

30. Law enforcement officials indicate from their experience that recorded computer crime statistics do not represent the actual number of offences; the term "dark figure", used by criminologists to refer to unreported crime, has been applied to undiscovered computer crimes. The invisibility of computer crimes is based on several factors. First, sophisticated technology, that is, the immense, compact storage capacity of the computer and the speed with which computers function, ensures that computer crime is very difficult to detect. In contrast to most traditional areas of crime, unknowing victims are often informed after the fact by law enforcement officials that they have sustained a computer crime. Secondly, investigating officials often do not have sufficient training to deal with problems in the complex environment of data processing. Thirdly, many victims do not have a contingency plan for responding to incidents of computer crime, and they may even fail to acknowledge that a security problem exists.

31. An additional cause of the dark figure is the reluctance of victims to report computer offences once they have been discovered. In the business sector, this reluctance is related to two concerns. Some victims may be unwilling to divulge information about their operations for fear of adverse publicity, public embarrassment or loss of goodwill. Other victims fear the loss of investor or public confidence and the resulting economic consequences. Some experts have suggested that these factors have a significant impact on the detection of computer crime.

Top C. Perpetrators of computer crime
32. History has shown that computer crime is committed by a broad range of persons: students, amateurs, terrorists and members of organized crime groups. What distinguishes them is the nature of the crime committed. The individual who accesses a computer system without further criminal intent is much different from the employee of a financial institution who skims funds from customer accounts.

33. The typical skill level of the computer criminal is a topic of controversy. Some claim that skill level is not an indicator of a computer criminal, while others claim that potential computer criminals are bright, eager, highly motivated subjects willing to accept a technological challenge, characteristics that are also highly desirable in an employee in the data-processing field.

34. It is true that computer criminal behaviour cuts across a wide spectrum of society, with the age of offenders ranging from 10 to 60 years and their skill level ranging from novice to professional. Computer criminals, therefore, are often otherwise average persons rather than super criminals possessing unique abilities and talents. 8 Any person of any age with a modicum of skill, motivated by the technical challenge, by the potential for gain, notoriety or revenge, or by the promotion of ideological beliefs, is a potential computer criminal.

35. According to a number of studies, however, employees represent the largest threat, and indeed computer crime has often been referred to as an insider crime. One study estimated that 90 per cent of economic computer crimes were committed by employees of the victimized companies. A recent survey in North America and Europe indicated that 73 per cent of the risk to computer security was attributable to internal sources and only 23 per cent to external criminal activity.

36. As advances continue to be made in remote data processing, the threat from external sources will probably increase. With the increasing connectedness of systems and the adoption of more user-friendly software, the sociological profile of the computer offender may change.

37. Owing to the greater complexity of certain computer routines and augmented security measures, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any one person will possess all the information needed to use a computer system for criminal purposes. Organized computer criminal groups, composed of members from all over the world, are beginning to emerge. Corresponding with this increasing cooperation in criminal activity, the escalating underground use of electronic bulletin boards for clandestine criminal communication has been detected around the world. Rapidly improving telecommunication technology has added to the threat from external sources. Computer-based voice mailbox systems, for example, are being used by the computer criminal community to exchange stolen access numbers, passwords and software.

38. The advent of viruses and similar mechanisms whereby computer software can be made to act almost on its own initiative poses a new and significant threat. Sophisticated viruses and devices such as "logic bombs" and "trojan horses", discussed below, can be targeted for specific objectives at specific industries to commit a variety of traditional criminal offences, from mere mischief of extortion. These crimes, furthermore, can be committed immediately or can be planted to spring at a future date.

39. Computer criminals have gained notoriety in the media and appear to have gained more social acceptability than traditional criminals. The suggestion that the computer criminal is a less harmful individual, however, ignores the obvious. The current threat is real. The future threat will be directly proportional to the advances made in computer technology.

Top D. The vulnerability of computer systems to crime
40. Historically, economic value has been placed on visible and tangible assets. With the increasing appreciation that intangible data can possess economic value, they have become an economic asset that can be targeted for crime. Tangible assets in the computer environment, therefore, often have a double value. The replacement cost of a piece of computer equipment may represent only a small portion of the economic loss caused by the theft of, or damage to, that equipment. Of much greater significance is the value of the information lost or made inaccessible by the misappropriation or damage.

41. Computer systems are particularly vulnerable to threats because of a number of interacting factors. The more significant of these are analyzed briefly below.

1. Density of information and processes

.42. Storage technology has allowed the development of filing systems that can accommodate billions of characters of data on-line. Providing different access privileges for different users of such systems is often difficult. A further problem lies in the fact that, owing to the methods for accessing stored information, a single error can have widespread impact. This fact can be used to great advantage by a party who wants to corrupt data or disrupt service.

43. At the same time, memory management techniques allow many independent processes to be supported concurrently within a single operating system. Independent data files can be combined to produce new and unforeseen relationships. Data items may be linked to produce a new item with a higher level of sensitivity than the original discrete data components. The centralization of information and processing functions provides an attractive target for the infiltrator or saboteur intent on attacking the functions or information assets of an organization.


44. The density of data stored on such media as tapes, diskettes, cassettes and microfilms means that the loss or theft of such items can be very significant.

2. System accessibility

45. Before security became a significant design criterion, the goal was often to provide the maximum computing capability to the largest possible user community. Access concerns once confined to the restricted computer room area must now be extended to remote terminal locations and interconnecting communications links. However, remote terminal stations and transmission circuits are often not subject to the same controls as those in the main centre. Two forms of attack that exploit remote access are the use of fraudulent identification and access codes to obtain the use of system resources and the unauthorized use of an unattended terminal, logged on by an authorized person.

46. Because of the desire to give system users maximum capability, unrestricted access privileges are often granted rather than allowing only the privileges necessary to perform an intended function. A transaction-oriented system permitting read-only or inquiry-only access offers a greater degree of protection than a system offering full programming capability.

47. Many systems in current use offer very limited ability to control user capabilities related to passive data and programmes on a read-only, read-write or execute basis. This situation frequently necessitates operating on the assumption that every user has the capability to use the full computing potential of the operating system. A known penetration technique that utilizes this weakness involves disguising user instructions intended for clandestine purposes as a common utility, such as a file-copying routine, or inserting them into an existing routine. When the illicit code is activated, it performs functions more privileged than were intended for that user.

48. Finally, computer control functions are normally made accessible to numerous support and maintenance personnel. Tampering with software or hardware logic to obtain extended privilege or to disable protection features has been known to occur. The exposure provided through increasingly easy access to electronic data processing (EDP) resources is an important contributor to the vulnerability of modern computer systems.

3. Complexity

49. The typical operating environment of medium- and large-scale systems is characterized by support for local batch, remote batch, interactive and, occasionally, real-time user modes. Typical operating systems contain from 200,000 to 25 million individual instructions. The number of logic states that are possible during execution in a multiprogramming or multiprocessing environment approaches infinity. It is not surprising that such systems are not fully understood by anyone, including the designers, or that they are often unreliable. It is only possible to prove the presence of errors, not their absence, and any system error can result in down time or a potential security fault. Even when systems have been carefully designed, errors in implementation, maintenance and operation can still occur. The prospective infiltrator can be expected to take full advantage of the uncertainties created by system complexity. Incidents have been noted where deliberate attempts to confuse operators, or to interrupt systems by attacking little-known weaknesses, have been instrumental in producing security violations.

4. Electronic vulnerability

50. The reliance of computer systems on electronic technology means that they are subject to problems of reliability, fragility, environmental dependency and vulnerability to interference and interception. On systems using telecommunications, these vulnerabilities extend to the whole communications network in use.


51. Traditional forms of electronic eavesdropping can be readily adapted to exploit data-processing systems. They include wire-tapping and bugging, the analysis of electromagnetic radiations from equipment and monitoring of the cross-talk induced in adjacent electrical circuits. Interconnecting data communications circuits also suffer the same vulnerabilities, and communications on them can be subject to misrouting. A variation on wire-tapping involves the illegal use of a minicomputer to intercept data communications and to generate false commands or responses to other system components.

52. In the commission of a fraud, electronic technology has an advantage over manual data manipulation, which generally leaves behind an audit trail. Computer data, however, can be instantly changed or erased with minimal chance of detection, by, for example, a virus or logic bomb. The computer criminal can easily modify systems to perpetrate the fraud and then cover the evidence of the offence. It is suggested, moreover, that data processing is protected by only one tenth of the controls afforded to the same process in the manual environment, an insufficiency that facilitates the opportunity to commit crime without detection.

53. The performance of EDP systems may also be adversely affected by electromagnetic interference. Conducted or radiated electrical disturbances can interfere with the operation of electronic equipment. The system may suffer only very temporary and intermittent impairment, measurable in microseconds and from which recovery is possible, or it may suffer complete equipment failure, resulting in an inability to process.

54. All hardware is susceptible to failure through ageing, physical damage and environmental change. To ensure that error propagation is confined to non-sensitive functions, i.e., that the system fails safely, malfunctions must be detected immediately. Progress is being made towards this goal, but few designs in current use offer the desired level of reliability.

5. Vulnerability of electronic data-processing media

55. It is sometimes inferred that a degree of security is provided by the inability of humans to translate machine-readable data in the form of punched holes in cards or tape, magnetic states on tapes, drums and disks, and electrical states in processing or transmission circuits. In practice, not only can such computerized information codes be readily interpreted by most technical personnel, but the data obscurity created has the additional negative effect of creating identification and accounting problems.

56. Because the contents of most EDP media are not visually evident, data-processing personnel are often required to handle sensitive files without being aware they are doing so. As a result, the control of data items becomes a problem. Scratched tapes, discarded core memories can all contain residual data that may demand special attention. Because identity and accountability have been lost, safeguards are frequently relaxed for these items even though the same information is protected elsewhere in the system. The ease with which such sources of information can be utilized has resulted in several well-publicized system penetrations.

6. Human factors

57. As discussed above, employees represent the greatest threat in terms of computer crime. It is not uncommon, operators, media librarians, hardware technicians and other staff members to find themselves in positions of extraordinary privilege in relation to the key functions and assets of their organization. A consequence of this situation is the probability that such individuals are frequently exposed to temptation.

58. A further complication is the tendency on the part of management to tolerate less stringent supervisory controls over EDP personnel. The premise is that the work is not only highly technical and specialized but difficult to understand and control. As an example systems software support is often entrusted to a single programmer who generates the version of the operating system in use, establishes password or other control lists and determines the logging and accounting features to be used. In addition, such personnel are often permitted, and sometimes encouraged, to perform these duties during non-prime shift periods, when demands on computer time are light. As a result, many of the most critical software development and maintenance functions are performed in an unsupervised environment. It is also clear that operators, librarians and technicians often enjoy a degree of freedom quite different from that which would be considered normal in a more traditional employment area.

59. There is another factor at play in the commission of computer crime. Criminological research has identified a variation of the Robin Hood syndrome: criminals tend to differentiate between doing harm to individual people, which they regard as highly immoral, and doing harm to a corporation, which they can more easily rationalize. Computer systems facilitate these kinds of crimes, as a computer does not show emotion when it is attached. 12

60. Situations in which personnel at junior levels are trusted implicitly and given a great deal of responsibility, without commensurate management control and accountability, occur frequently in the EDP environment. Whether the threat is from malicious or subversive activities or from honest errors on the part of staff members, the human aspect is perhaps the most vulnerable aspect of EDP systems.

Top E. Common types of computer crime
61. All stages of computer operations are susceptible to criminal activity, either as the target of the crime or the instrument of the crime or both. Input operations, data processing, output operations and communications have all been utilized for illicit purposes. The more common types of computer-related crime are categorized next.

1. Fraud by computer manipulation

62. Intangible assets represented in data format, such as money on deposit or hours of work, are the most common targets of computer-related fraud. Modern business is quickly replacing cash with deposits transacted on computer systems, creating an enormous potential for computer abuse. Credit card information, as well as personal and financial information on credit-card clients, have been frequently targeted by the organized criminal community. The sale of this information to counterfeiters of credit cards and travel documents has proven to be extremely lucrative. Assets represented in data format often have a considerably higher value than traditionally targeted economic assets, resulting in potentially greater economic loss. In addition, improved remote access to databases allows the criminal the opportunity to commit various types of fraud without ever physically entering the premises of the victim.

63. Computer fraud by input manipulation is the most common computer crime, as it is easily perpetrated and difficult to detect. Often referred to as "data diddling", it does not require any sophisticated computer knowledge and can be committed by anyone having access to normal data-processing functions at the input stage.

64. programme manipulation, which is very difficult to discover and is frequently not recognized, requires the perpetrator to have computer-specific knowledge. It involves changing existing programmes in the computer system or inserting new programmes or routines. A common method used by persons with specialized knowledge of computer programming is the trojan horse, whereby computer instructions are covertly placed in a computer program so that it will perform an unauthorized function concurrent with its normal function. A trojan horse can be programmed to self-destruct, leaving no evidence of its existence except the damage that it caused. 13 Remote access capabilities today also allow the criminal to easily run modified routines concurrently with legitimate programs.

65. Output manipulation is effected by targeting the output of the computer system. The obvious example is cash dispenser fraud, achieved by falsifying instructions to the computer in the input stage. Traditionally, such fraud involved the use of stolen bank cards. However, specialized computer hardware and software is now being widely used to encode falsified electronic information on the magnetic strips of bank cards and credit cards.

66. There is a particular species of fraud conducted by computer manipulation that takes advantage of the automatic repetitions of computer processes. Such manipulation is characteristic of the specialized "salami technique", whereby nearly unnoticeable, "thin slices" of financial transactions are repeatedly removed and transferred to another account. 10

2. Computer forgery

67. Where data are altered in respect of documents stored in computerized form, the crime is forgery. In this and the above examples, computer systems are the target of criminal activity. Computers, however, can also be used as instruments with which to commit forgery. The created a new library of tools with which to forge the documents used in commerce. A new generation of fraudulent alteration or counterfeiting emerged when computerized colour laser copiers became available. 14 These copiers are capable of high-resolution copying, the modification of documents and even the creation of false documents without benefit of an original, and they produce documents whose quality is indistinguishable from that of authentic documents except by an expert.

3. Damage to or modifications of computer data or programs

68. This category of criminal activity involves either direct or covert unauthorized access to a computer system by the introduction of new programmes known as viruses, "worms" or logic bombs. The unauthorized modification, suppression or erasure of computer data or functions with the internet to hinder normal functioning of the system is clearly criminal activity and is commonly referred to as computer sabotage. Computer sabotage can be the vehicle for gaining economic advantage over a competitor, for promoting the illegal activities of ideologically motivated terrorists or for stealing data or programmes (also referred to as "bitnapping") for extortion purposes. In one reported incident at London, Ontario, in 1987, a former employee of a company sought unsuccessfully to sabotage the computer system of the company by inserting a programme into the system that would have wiped it out completely.

69. A virus is a series of programme codes that has the ability to attach itself to legitimate programmes and propagate itself to other computer programs. A virus can be introduced to a system by a legitimate piece of software that has been infected, as well as by the trojan horse method discussed above.

70. The potential purposes of viruses are many, ranging from the display of harmless messages on several computer terminals to the irreversible destruction of all data on a computer system. In 1990, Europe first experienced a computer virus, used to commit extortion in the medical research community. The virus threatened to destroy increasing amounts of data if no ransom was paid for the "cure". A significant amount of valuable medical research data was lost as a result.

71. A worm is similarly constructed to infiltrate legitimate data-processing programmes and to alter or destroy the data, but it differs from a virus in that it does not have the ability to replicate itself. In a medical analogy, the worm can be compared to a benign tumor, the virus to a malignant one. However, the consequences of a worm attack can be just as serious as those of a virus attack: for example, a bank computer can be instructed, by a worm programme that subsequently destroys itself, to continually transfer money to an illicit account.

72. A logic bomb, also known as a "time bomb", is another technique by which computer sabotage can be perpetrated. The creation of logic bombs requires some specialized knowledge, as it involves programming the destruction or modification of data at a specific time in the future. Unlike viruses or worms, however, logic bombs are very difficult to detect before they blow up; thus, of all these computer crime schemes, they have the greatest potential for damage. Detonation can be timed to cause maximum damage and to take place long after the departure of the perpetrator. The logic bomb may also be used as a tool of extortion, with a ransom being demanded in exchange for disclosure of the location of the bomb.

73. Irrespective of motive, the fact remains that the use of viruses, worms and logic bombs constitutes unauthorized modification of legitimate computer data or programmes and thus fall under the rubric computer sabotage, although the motive of the sabotage may be circumstantial to the alteration of the data.


4. Unauthorized access to computer systems and service

74. The desire to gain unauthorized access to computer systems can be prompted by several motives, from simple curiosity, as exemplified by many hackers, to computer sabotage or espionage. Intentional and unjustified access by a person not authorized by the owners or operators of a system may often constitute criminal behaviour. Unauthorized access creates the opportunity to cause additional unintended damage to data, system crashes or impediments to legitimate system users by negligence.

75. Access is often accomplished from a remote location along a telecommunication network, by one of several means. The perpetrator may be able to take advantage of lax security measures to gain access or may find loopholes in existing security measures or system procedures. Frequently, hackers impersonate legitimate system users; this is especially common in systems where users can employ common passwords or maintenance passwords found in the system itself.

76. Password protection is often mischaracterized as a protective device against unauthorized access. However, the modern hacker can easily circumvent this protection using one of three common methods. If a hacker is able to discover a password allowing access, then a trojan horse programme can be placed to capture the other passwords of legitimate users. This type of programme can operate concurrently with the normal security function and is difficult to detect. The hacker can later retrieve the programme containing the stolen passwords by remote access.

77. Password protection can also be bypassed successfully by utilizing password cracking routines. Most modern software effects password security by a process that converts a user's selected password into a mathematical series, a process known as encryption. Encryption disguises the actual password, which is then almost impossible to decrypt. Furthermore, legitimate security software has been developed that allows access to data only after it checks encrypted passwords against a dictionary of common passwords so as to alert system administrators of potential weakness in security. However, this same security process can be imitated for illegitimate purposes. Known as a "cracker" programme when used for illegitimate purposes, these tools encrypt some or all of the data of the system. This creates a dictionary of data to compare with cracker software, for the purpose of identifying common passwords and gaining access to the system. A variety of these system-specific encryption routines can be obtained from hacker bulletin boards around the world and are regularly updated by the criminal community as security technology develops.

78. The third method commonly used to access a system is the "trapdoor" method, whereby unauthorized access is achieved through access points, or trapdoors, created for legitimate purposes, such as maintenance of the system.

79. The international criminal hacker community uses electronic bulletin boards to communicate system infiltration incidents and methods. In one case, details of a Canadian attempt to access a system were found on suspects in an unrelated matter in England; they had removed the material from a bulletin board in Germany. This sharing of information can facilitate multiple unauthorized infiltrations of a system from around the globe, resulting in staggering telecommunication charges to the victim.

80. With the development of modern telecommunications system, a new field for unauthorized infiltration was created. Personal telecommunications have been expanded with the advent of portable, cellular telecommunication devices. The criminal community has responded to these advances by duplicating the microchip technology.

81. Modern telecommunications systems are equally vulnerable to criminal activity. Office automation systems such as voice mail boxes and private business exchanges are, in effect, computer systems, designed for the convenience of users. However, convenience features such as remote access and maintenance capabilities, call-forwarding and voice-messaging are easily infiltrated by computer criminals.

82. Modern telecommunications systems, like other computer systems, are also susceptible to abuse by remote access. The integration of telecommunications systems means that once one system is accessed, a computer operator with sufficient skill could infiltrate the entire telecommunications network of a city. The usual motive for telecommunications crime is to obtain free telecommunications services. However, more innovative telecommunications fraud has also been uncovered, and telecommunications systems have been used to disguise other forms of criminal activity.

5. Unauthorized reproduction of legally protected computer programs

83. The unauthorized reproduction of computer programmes can mean a substantial economic loss to the legitimate owners. Several jurisdictions have dictated that this type of activity should be the subject of criminal sanction. The problem has reached transnational dimensions with the trafficking of these unauthorized reproductions over modern telecommunication networks.


Top A. Background
84. The criminal codes of all countries have, up to the present, predominantly protected tangible and visible objects. Although protection for information and other intangible things or values existed before the middle of the twentieth century, it did not play an important role until very recently. The last few decades have seen significant changes: the development from industrial to post-industrial society, the increasing value of information in economics, culture and politics, and the growing importance of computer technology have led to legal challenges and new legal responses to information law. In the 1970s, the resulting change of paradigm, from corporeal to incorporeal objects, began to touch substantive criminal law, in several waves of computer crime legislation.

85. A new doctrine of criminal information is emerging in the area of al legal science, founded on the still-developing concepts of information law and the law of information technology. In accordance with modern cybernetics and informatics, information law now recognizes information as a third fundamental factor in addition to matter and energy. Based on empirical analysis, this concept evaluates information both as a new economic, cultural and political asset and as being specifically vulnerable to unique forms of crime.

86. It is obvious in the new approach that the legal evaluation of corporal objects differs considerably from the evaluation of incorporeal (information) objects. First, there is an important conceptual distinction between information and data that is both technologically and legally relevant. Information is a process or relationship that occurs between a person's mind and a stimulus. Data, whether in corporeal or incorporeal (e.g. electromagnetic impulse) form, constitute a stimulus. Data are merely a representation of information or of some concept. Information is the interpretation that an observer applies to the data. Different information may be received from the same data, depending on their interpretation. Thus, when data are destroyed or appropriated, it is the representation that is destroyed or appropriated and not the actual information, idea or knowledge. The latter may still subsist in a person's mind or in another copy of the data.

87. The second difference concerns the protection of the proprietor or holder of corporeal and incorporeal objects. Whereas corporeal objects are more exclusively attributed good that flows freely in a free society. It is not itself subject, therefore, to exclusive protection in the same way as tangible property. A third difference between the legal regimes of tangibles and intangibles is that, in protecting information, not only must one consider the economic interests of its proprietor or holder, but one must also preserve the interests of those persons concerned with the contents of the information. This aspect results in new issues of privacy protection, which is dealt with in chapter III.

88. Paragraphs 89-115 investigate how far the various national systems protect the holder of information and paragraphs 116-126 examine activities undertaken in this field of law on the international level.

Top B. The development of national law
89. Two primary issues are raised by the use of legislation to protect the holder or processor of data or information. First, to what extent is the criminal law an adequate appropriate mechanism for guaranteeing the integrity and correctness of data or information? Secondly, when or how should the interests of proprietors or holders in the exclusive use or secrecy of data or information be protected?

1. The integrity and correctness of data

The integrity of data

90. Until the 1980s, in most legal systems the integrity of computer-stored data was covered by general provisions regarding damage to property, vandalism or mischief. However, these provisions were developed to protect tangible objects; thus their application in the information sphere posed new questions. In a few criminal codes the mere erasure of data without damaging the physical medium does not fall under the traditional provisions regarding damage to property, since electrical impulses are not considered to be corporeal property and interference with the use of physical medium is not considered to be destruction. However, the prevailing opinion in most countries considers the deliberate damage or destruction of data on tapes or disks to be equivalent to damage to, or interference with the use of, property (i.e. vandalism) de lege data, since the use of the tape or disk has been affected.

91. To clarify the situation, new legislation has been enacted in many countries. Some countries amended the traditional statues on mischief, vandalism or damage to tangible property; others created specific provisions. The legislation of a few countries covers all kind of documents, not only computer-stored data. In the United States, a number of state laws contain more specific sanctions for the insertion or intrusion of a computer virus, and on the federal level, a provision sanctions the reckless causing of damage when a federal computer system is intentionally accessed without authorization. Some legal systems also include specific qualifications for computer sabotage that leads to the obstruction of business or of national security.


The correctness of data

92. Owing to its fragmentary character, criminal law is too blunt an instrument to guarantee the general correctness of data, especially its informational content. Only in specific cases, such as balance sheet items, medical reports or other specific documents, can it attempt to guarantee the preservation of faultless data.

93. Some of the most important criminal law provisions covering the integrity, as well as he correctness, of specific data are provisions on forgery, which guarantee the authenticity of a document for the statement that it contains. In some countries, the provisions on forgery require visual readability of statements embodied in a document and, for this reason, do not cover electronically stored data. With the intention of giving electronically based documents the same legal protection as paper-based declarations, some enacted or proposed new statues on forgery that relinquish visual perceptibility. De lege lata, courts in other countries came to the same result.

False data as a means to attack other legally protected interests

94. Traditionally, the involvement of computer data (e.g. in the case of murder committed by the manipulation of a computerized hospital supervision system) does not create specific legal complications. The respective legal provisions are formulated in terms of result, and it is completely irrelevant if the result is achieved with the involvement of a computer.

95. In the area of financial manipulations the situation is different. In many legal systems the statutory definitions of theft, larceny and embezzlement require that the offender take an "item of another person's property". In such systems, the provisions are not applicable if the perpetrator appropriates deposit money. In many countries, these provisions also cause difficulties in regard to the manipulation of financial transactions through automated cash dispensers. The statutory provisions on fraud in some legal systems demand the deception of a person. They cannot be used when a computer is deceived. Statutory definitions of breach of trust or abus de confiance, which exist in several countries, sometimes apply only to offenders in high positions and not to punchers, operators or programmers; some provisions also have restrictions on which objects may be protected. Consequently, many legal systems have looked for solution de lege data without overstretching the wording of existing provisions, and new laws on computer fraud have been enacted in many countries. Such clarifications or amendments should be considered, if necessary.

2. The exclusive use of data or information

96. The exclusive use of information by its holder is protected by three legal instruments: (a) new, computer-specific statutes concerning illegal access to or use of computer systems; (b) the general rules of intellectual property law, especially copyright law; and (c) the general rules of trade secret law, especially the provisions on economic espionage.

Special statutes protecting exclusive access to and use of computer systems

97. In many countries, since the 1980s, the protection of computer data by the general provisions of trade secret law and intellectual property law has not been considered to be sufficient. In response to the new cases of hacking, many States developed new statutes protecting a "formal sphere of secrecy or privacy" for computer data by criminalizing illegal access to or use of another person's computer, thereby also protecting the computer data contained therein. This new legislation became necessary because, in most countries, protection of this "formal sphere or privacy" against illegal access to computer-stored data and computer communication could not be guaranteed by traditional criminal provisions.

98. As far as wire-tapping and the interception of data communications are concerned, the traditional wire-tap statutes of most legal systems refer only to the interception of communications. Therefore, legislative proposals that cover wire-tapping and other forms of electronic surveillance or the interception of computer system functions or communications have been put forth in many countries. When enacting legislation in this area, it is important that the new law should address interception in all of its possible forms, whether of communications to, from or within a computer system, or of inadvertent or advertent emissions of radiation.

99. Similarly, traditional provisions on trespassing and forgery often cannot be used. In all countries, the applicability of traditional penal provisions to unauthorized access to data-processing and storage systems is generally difficult. Therefore, new legislative provisions concerning such access have been enacted in many countries. These provisions demonstrate various approaches. Some criminalize "mere" access to EDP systems; other punish access only in cases where the accessed system is protected by security measures or where the perpetrator has harmful intentions or where data obtained, modified or damaged. Some countries combine several of these approaches in a single provision covering both "mere" access (in the form of a basic hacking offence) and qualified forms of access (in the form of a more serious ulterior offence with more severe sanctions).

100. One problem concerns the circumstances under which an initially authorized access may become unauthorized or may otherwise turn into a criminal action. In most countries, the new provisions deal only with the initial unauthorized access, thus criminalizing only the acts of outsiders; other countries also proscribe unauthorized use of or presence in systems, thus also criminalizing use or "time theft" by both outsiders and employees. A special solution to protect employees can be found in the California state law, which does not apply to employees if their use is within the scope of their employment or, in the case of uses outside the scope of employment, the use does not result in any injury or the value of the used services does not exceed $100.

101. The discussion about initially authorized access demonstrates that illegal access to computer systems is closely connected to, and partly overlaps with, the criminalisation of unauthorized use of computers (i.e. both use without authority and time theft), although up to the present this close relationship has not yet been generally realized by all countries. De lege ferenda in most civil law countries the problem of illegal use of computers is reduced to the illegal use of computer hardware and discussed within the context of furtum usus of corporeal property. In this context many civil law countries reject a general criminalization of furtum usus of tangibles (with some exceptions, such as for motor vehicle joyriding) and consequently do not incorporate a provision against the illegal use of computers or time theft in their new computer crime laws. However, there are (mainly Nordic) countries that have a legal tradition of criminalizing the unauthorized use of corporeal property, so that the new reform proposals of these countries also criminalize the unauthorized use of computer systems. Many common law countries or parts thereof (e.g. Canada and many States of the United States) have recognized the relationship between access and use, and in statutory definitions subsume either "access" or "use" into the other concept, thereby creating a single legal concept that address both situations for the purposes of the new penal provisions. Since the unauthorized use of computer systems generally presupposes unauthorized access to that system, an adequate access or use provision could at the same time cover the other delict as well.

102. A further distinction that is sometimes recognized is one between (a) the unauthorized obtaining of computer services or time that is ordinarily provided for a fee and (b) the unauthorized use of computer systems in general. The delict in respect of the former is the unauthorized obtaining of computer services without payment of the requisite fee, thereby causing the owner of the system to suffer a financial loss. In some countries, such abuse is covered by general theft of service laws. The statutes of other countries, however, are limited to the unlawful use, waste or withdrawal of electricity. General theft and fraud statutes may be applicable in some countries, while in other countries specific provisions have had to be enacted to deal with this type of theft of service.

103. The delict in respect of the mere unauthorized use of the computer is the violation of the exclusive use rights of the owner. Addressing this problem raises all of the issues previously discussed in relation to the issues of unauthorized access and unauthorized use.


Intellectual property law

104. The concept of intellectual property law has been predicated both on the recognition of natural rights in intellectual property and on the policy of encouraging the creation of works by granting a certain premium to the creators. In the field of information technology, this concept is especially important for the protection of computer programmes and semiconductor topographies.

Top 1 Computer programs

105. Depending on the circumstances, trade secret protection may apply to computer-stored date, including computer programs themselves. However, since these legal devices are restricted to secret programs, special relationships and/or specific acts of accessing information, they are not sufficient to guarantee secure trade with respect to computer programmes in general. The price discrepancy between expensive originals of computer programmes and cheaper unauthorized reproductions is so vast that there is a demand in all countries for the more comprehensive regulation of these activities. Protective systems could be expanded to include non-secret programs and could be applicable to third parties.

106. In recent years, many countries have debated the scope of copyright law, given that patent law can protect only a small number of programs, such as those that include a technical invention. With the aim of avoiding legal uncertainty, many countries have expressly provided copyright protection for computer programmes by way of legislative amendments. This fundamental recognition of the need to copyright computer programmes can, however, only be regarded as a first step. The creation of effective copyright protection for computer programmes raises explicitly the question of the appropriate scope of copyright protection, as well as some additional problems. Until now, these questions have been solved in disparate and often unsatisfactory ways in many countries.

107. The role op penal copyright protection has also been evaluated differently in various countries. In the past, copyright law in common law systems rarely, if ever, resorted to penal sanctions; civil law systems, in contrast, have traditionally punished infringements of copyright by lenient criminal sanctions. The increase in audio- and videotape piracy in recent years, however, has necessitated more stringent criminal sanctions in both systems; thus the distinction between civil and common law systems has been effectively removed.

108. Although some of the new laws are still confined to phonographic products, many are of a more general nature. Reform proposals providing more severe criminal sanctions for copyright infringements have been enacted in many countries. These efforts to achieve more effective copyright protection are justified, since attacks against intellectual property deserve a criminal law response as much as do the more conventional attacks on corporeal property. The reluctance to criminalize copyright infringements, still evident in some countries, could be counteracted by adequate civil law provisions. The law can be structured to differentiate between less objectionable activities, such as private back-up copying, and more clearly criminal behaviour, which either causes economic damage or is regularly committed for gain.

Semiconductor products

109. Computer programmes are not the only new economic values created by modern computer technology. As is evidenced by the miniaturization of computers and the development of fifth-generation computers, the technique of integrated circuits is becoming more and more sophisticated. The possibilities of copying the topography of semiconductor products give rise to demand for an effective protection of such products in order to stop unauthorized reproduction.

110. In most countries, it remains unclear to what extent the topography of semiconductor products is protected against reproductions by patent law, copyright law, registered designs, trade secret law and competition law. In the United States, special protection for computer chips was provided by the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984. 8 Many states followed this sui generis approach by enacting similar legislation.

111. However, criminal sanctions provided under this type of legislation differ from country to country. In contrast to the laws of Canada, Italy and the United States, the new Finnish, German, Japanese, Netherlands and Swedish laws include criminal sanctions, which among other things punish the infringement of a circuit layout right. Civil and penal sanctions for egregious infringements of circuit layout rights require serious consideration.


The protection of trade secrets

112. When information is acquired by stealing a corporeal carrier of information, such as a printout, tape or disk, the traditional penal provisions on theft, larceny or embezzlement are not problematic in application. However, the ability of data-processing and communication systems to copy data quickly, inconspicuously and, often, via telecommunication facilities has meant that most of these acts of traditional information carrier theft are replaced with acts of actual information acquisition. Therefore, the question arises, To what extent can or should the pure acquisition of incorporeal information be covered by these provisions? Most countries are reluctant to apply traditional provisions on theft and embezzlement to the unauthorized appropriation of secret information, because these provisions generally require that corporeal property be taken away with the intention of depriving the victim of use or control The acquisition of information (e.g. by copying it or taking away a copy) does not necessarily deprive the original holder of the information. The data may still exist intact, or other copies my exist.

113. Additionally, in many countries the traditional laws of theft also require that the thing that is taken constitute property. However, legislators and the judiciary in many of these countries are reluctant to ascribe a property status to information, even confidential information. The issue of misappropriation of information raises a number of broader legal, social and economic issues. The conflict of interest between the free flow of information and the right to confidentiality must be taken into account, as must be the economic interests in certain kinds of information. Just as in the area of intellectual property law solutions in this area must also provide for an appropriate degree of flexibility to balance these competing interests. Traditional property law, with its emphasis on exclusivity to one owner, does not adequately account for the dynamics of information in an information society. Rather than relying on traditional theft provisions, special laws may need to be enacted. 2

114. As a result of problems in applying the general property law to cover trade secrets, in many countries the misappropriation of someone else's secret information is covered by special provisions on trade secrets law. These provisions protect trade secrets by prohibiting only certain condemnable acts of obtaining information, either by provisions of the penal code or by penal or civil provisions of statutes against unfair competition. These laws generally attempt to balance the competing interests.

115. Generally speaking, it can be said that criminal trade secret law and civil unfair competition law are less developed in common law countries, at least statutorily, and in Asian countries than in continental Europe. As far as future policy-making is concerned, the international trend towards trade secret protection should be encouraged. To achieve an international consensus, all legal systems could, either in their penal codes or in statutes against unfair competition, establish penal trade secret protection reinforced by adequate civil provisions on unfair competition.


C. The international harmonization of criminal law
116. In order to effectively address computer crime, concerted international cooperation is required. Such can only occur, however, if there is a common framework for understanding what the problem is and what solutions are being considered. To date, international harmonization of the legal categories and definition of computer crime has been proposed by the United Nations, by OECD and by the Council of Europe.

1. First initiatives of OECD

117. The first comprehensive international effort dealing with the criminal law problems of computer crime was initiated by OECD. From 1983 to 1985, an ad hoc committee of OECD discussed the possibilities of an international harmonization of criminal laws in order to fight computer-related economic crime. In September 1985, the committee recommended that member countries consider the extent to which knowingly committed acts in the field of computer-related abuse should be criminalized and covered by national penal legislation.

118. In 1986, based on a comparative analysis of substantive law, OECD suggested that the following list of acts could constitute a common denominator for the different approaches being taken by member countries:

  1. "The input, alteration, erasure and/or suppression of computer data and/or computer programmes made willfully with the intent to commit an illegal transfer of funds or of another thing of value;

  2. The input, alteration, erasure and/or suppression of computer data and/or computer programmes made willfully with the intent to commit a forgery;

  3. The input, alteration, erasure and/or suppression of computer data and/or computer programs, or other interference with computer systems, made willfully with the intent to hinder the functioning of a computer and/or telecommunication system;

  4. The infringement of the exclusive right of the owner of a protected computer programme with the intent to exploit commercially the programme and put in on the market;

  5. The access to or the interception of a computer and/or telecommunication system made knowingly and without the authorization of the person responsible for the system, either (i) by infringement of security measures or (ii) for other dishonest or harmful intentions." 9

2. The guidelines of the Council of Europe

119. From 1985 to 1989, the Select Committee of Experts on Computer-Related Crime of the Council of Europe discussed the legal problems of computer crime. The Select Committee and the European Committee on Crime Problems prepared Recommendation No. R(89)9, which was adopted by the Council on 13 September 1989. 10

120. This document "recommends the Governments of Member States to take into account, when reviewing their legislation or initiating new legislation, the report on computer-related crime... and in particular the guidelines for the national legislatures". The guidelines for national legislatures include a minimum list, which reflects the general consensus of the Committee regarding certain computer-related abuses that should be dealt with by criminal law, as well as an optional list, which describes acts that have already been penalized in some States, but on which an international consensus for criminalisation could not be reached.

121. The minimum list of offences for which uniform criminal policy on legislation concerning computer-related crime had been achieved enumerates the following offences:

  1. Computer fraud. The input, alteration, erasure or suppression of computer data or computer programs, or other interference with the course of data processing that influences the result of data processing, thereby causing economic or possessory loss of property of another person with the intent of procuring an unlawful economic gain for himself or for another person;

  2. Computer forgery. The input, alteration erasure or suppression of computer data or computer programs, or other interference with the course of data processing in a manner or under such conditions, as prescribed by national law, that it would constitute the offence of forgery if it had been committed with respect to a traditional object of such an offence;

  3. Damage to computer data or computer programs. The erasure, damaging, deterioration or suppression of computer data or computer programmes without right;

  4. Computer sabotage. The input, alteration erasure or suppression of computer data or computer programs, or other interference with computer systems, with the intent to hinder the functioning of a computer or a telecommunications system;

  5. Unauthorized access. The access without right to a computer system or network by infringing security measures;

  6. Unauthorized interception. The interception, made without right and by technical means, of communications to, from and within a computer system or network;

  7. Unauthorized reproduction of a protected computer program. The reproduction, distribution or communication to the public without right of a computer programme which is protected by law;

  8. Unauthorized reproduction of a topography. The reproduction without right of a topography protected by law, of a semiconductor product, or the commercial exploitation or the importation for that purpose, done without right, of a topography or of a semiconductor product manufactured by using the topography."


122. The optional list contains the following conduct:

  1. Alteration of computer data or computer programs. The alteration of computer data or computer programmes without right;

  2. Computer espionage. The acquisition by improper means or the disclosure, transfer or use of a trade or commercial secret without right or any other legal justification, with intent either to cause economic loss to the person entitled to the secret or to obtain an unlawful economic advantage for oneself or a third person;

  3. Unauthorized use of a computer. The use of a computer system or network without right, that either: (i) is made with the acceptance of significant risk of loss being caused to the person entitled to use the system or harm to the system or its functioning, or (ii) is made with the intent to cause loss to the person entitled to use the system or harm to the system or its functioning, or (iii) causes loss to the person entitled to use the system or harm to the system or its functioning;

  4. Unauthorized use of a protected computer program. The use without right of a computer programme which is protected by law and which has been reproduced without right, with the intent, either to procure and unlawful economic gain for himself or for another person or to cause harm to the holder of the right."

3. Resolution of the General Assembly

123. In 1990, the legal aspects of computer crime were also discussed by the United Nations, particularly at the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, at Havana, as well as at the accompanying symposium on computer crime organized by the Foundation for Responsible Computing. The Eighth United Nations Congress adopted a resolution on computer-related crime, a portion of which was quoted in paragraph 18. 124. In its resolution 45/121, the General Assembly welcomed the instruments and resolutions adopted by the Eighth Congress and invited Governments to be guided by them in the formulation of appropriate legislation and policy directives in accordance with the economic, social, legal, cultural and political circumstances of each country.

4. The proposed resolution of the Association Internationale de Droit Penal

125. The draft resolution of the AIDP Colloquium, held at Wurzburg, 5-8 October 1992, contains a number of recommendations, including the following:

"3. To the extent that traditional criminal law is not sufficient, modification of existing, or the creation of new offences should be supported of other measures are not sufficient (principle of subsidiarity).

4. In the enactment of amendments and new provisions, emphasis should be put on precision and clarity. In areas where criminal law is only an annex to other areas of law (as in the area of copyright law), this requirement should also be applied to the substantive material or that other law.

5. In order to avoid over-criminalisation, regard should be given to the scope to which criminal law extends in related areas. Extensions that range beyond these limits require careful examination and justification. In this respect, one important criterion in defining or restricting criminal liability is that offences in this area be limited primarily to intentional acts.


7. Having regard to the advances in information technology, the increase in related crime since the adoption of the 1989 recommendation of the Council of Europe, the significant value of intangibles in the information age, the desirability to promote further research and technological development and the high potential for harm, it is recommended that States should also consider, in accord with their legal traditions and culture and with reference to the applicability of their existing laws, punishing as crimes the conduct described in the optional list , especially the alteration of computer data and computer espionage.

8. Furthermore, it is suggested that some of the definitions in the Council of Europe lists - such as the offence of unauthorized access - may need further clarification and refinement in the light of advances in information technology and changing perceptions of criminality. For the same reasons, other types of abuses that are not included expressly in the lists, such as trafficking in wrongfully obtained computer passwords and other information about means of obtaining unauthorized access to computer systems, and the distribution or viruses or similar programs, should also be considered as candidates for criminalisation, in accord with national legal traditions and culture and with reference to the applicability of existing laws. In light of the high potential damage that can be caused by viruses, worms and other such programmes that are meant, or are likely, to propagate into and damage, or otherwise interfere with, data, programmes or the functioning of computer systems, it is recommended that more scientific discussion and research be devoted to this area. Special attention should be given to the use of criminal norms that penalize recklessness or the creation of dangerous risks, and to practical problems of enforcement. Consideration might also be given as to whether the resulting crime should be regarded as a form of sabotage offence.

9. In regard to the preceding recommendations, it is recognized that different legal cultures and traditions may resolve some of these issues in different ways while, nevertheless, still penalizing the essence of the particular abuse. States should be conscious of alternative approaches in other legal systems." 13

126. The draft resolution acknowledges the work of OECD and the Council of Europe and welcomes the guidelines adopted by the latter, which create a minimum list of criminal acts as well as an optional list of acts that should be penalized by national law. The draft resolution is expected to be adopted, with or without revisions, at a conference of AIDP to be held at Rio de Janeiro in 1994.


TopA. Background
127. Unlike the legal rules concerning corporeal objects, information law does not only consider the economic interests of the proprietor or holder but also takes into account the interests of persons concerned with the content of information. Before the invention of computers, the legal protection of persons in regard to the content of information was limited. Few provisions existed in the criminal law other than those in relation to libel. Since the 1970s, however, new technologies have expanded the possibilities of collecting, storing, accessing, comparing, selecting, linking and transmitting data, thereby causing new threats to privacy. This has prompted many countries to enact new elements of administrative, civil and penal regulations, as discussed in paragraphs 128-132. Various international measures, outlined in paragraphs 133-145, support this evolution by developing a common approach to privacy protection.


B. The development of national law
128. The penal provisions in privacy laws largely refer to the corresponding administrative provisions. Accordingly, first the administrative provisions are surveyed briefly and then the related questions of criminal law are dealt with.

1. Differing concepts of privacy laws

129. Special legislation against infringements of privacy have been past in most western legal systems. Moreover, the courts in most countries have also developed a civil action protecting privacy interests. An analysis of national laws demonstrates that various international actions have led to a considerable degree of uniformity among the general administrative and civil law regulations of national privacy laws. Most national privacy statutes include, for example, provisions addressing the limitation of data collection or the individual's right of access to his or her personal data. In spite of this tendency, considerable differences in general administrative and civil regulations remain. These differences concern the legislative rationale, the scope of application (especially with regard to legal persons and manually recorded data), the procedural requirements for commencing the processing of personal data and the substantive requirements for processing such data, as well as the respective control institutions.

130. The differences among the general administrative regulations are not only relevant for administrative law but to a significant extent also determine the existence of differences between criminal law provisions, which largely refer to these regulations. For example, one difference among criminal offences in various national privacy laws is found in the prohibition of the use of various types of data.

2. Differing acts covered by criminal law.

131. The main difference among the penal privacy offences, however, derive not from their general scope of application but from the different illegal acts that they cover . These differences in penal coverage are mainly caused by a divergent evaluation of the criminal character of privacy infringements and the role that penal law should play in this field. In some countries, especially Canada, Japan and the United States , criminal law is not widely used for privacy protection. In other countries, the criminal law includes comprehensive lists of severe criminal offences that refer to many of the actions regulated by administrative law. Some legislation even punishes negligent acts. In Finland, the Committee on Informational Crimes and, in France, the Commission for the Revision of the Penal Code intend to stress the importance of criminal sanctions of privacy legislations by implementing the most important infringements in their general penal codes.

132. The most important differences among the crimes against privacy in the various data protection laws emerge when the penal provisions are analyzed in detail. Such a comparative analysis should differentiate four main categories of criminal privacy infringements, which are to be found particularly in European privacy laws:

  1. The first main group of crimes against of privacy relates to infringements of substantive privacy rights and includes such acts as illegal disclosure, dissemination, obtaining of and/or access to data; unlawful use of data; illegal entering, modification and/or falsification of data with an intent to cause damage; collection, recording and/or storage of data, which is illegal for reasons of substantive policy; or storage of incorrect data. Detailed analysis of the respective criminal provisions indicates that these substantive infringements of privacy rights differ with regard not only to the data covered but also to the types of acts punished. They differ further according to the extent to which the described acts are permitted by law. Since the penal provisions either refer to the respective general provisions of the civil privacy laws or justify exceptions permitting the use of personal data by reference to general clauses, which are similar to those of the administrative provisions, all anomalies, inaccuracies and uncertainties in the field of administrative law can also be found within the corresponding penal provisions;

  2. As a result of the uncertainties in the substantive provisions, many legal systems rely to a great extent on a second, and additional, group of offences and are directed towards enforcing various formal legal requirements or orders of supervisory agencies. These offences, included in most privacy laws, generally contain more precise descriptions of the prohibited conduct than do the substantive offences. However, these formal provisions also vary considerably among the various national laws. The main type of formal infraction covered in many states by penal law concerns infringement of the legal requirements for commencing the processing of personal data (e.g. registration, notification, application for registration, declaration or licensing). Additional, and considerably varying, offences that can be found in much of the European privacy legislation are infringement of certain regulations, prohibitions or decisions of the regulatory authorities; refusal to give information or release of false information to the regulatory authorities; refusal to grant access to property and refusal to permit inspections by regulatory authorities; obstruction of the execution of a warrant; failure to appoint a controller of data protection for a company; and failure to record the grounds or means for the dissemination of personal data;

  3. A third type of criminal privacy infringement is infringement of access laws, e.g. the individual's rights to access information (freedom of information). With respect to a party's right of access, in many European countries it is an offence to give false information or not to inform the registered party or not to reply to a request;

  4. Some countries go further and punish neglect of security measures with an administrative fine or even with a criminal sanction. This constitutes a fourth type of offence.


C. International harmonization
1. Harmonization of underlying administrative and civil law

133. In the field of administrative and civil privacy legislation, various international organizations have developed a common approach to privacy protection in order to prevent the proliferation of different concepts and national regulations that would impede the transborder flow of data. The main work in this field has so far been accomplished by OECD, the Council of Europe and the European Union.


The OECD guidelines

134. In 1977, OECD began to elaborate guidelines governing the protection of privacy and transborder flows of personal data. These guidelines were adopted by the Council of OECD in 1980 as a recommendation to the member States. The eight main points of the guidelines concern the principles of limitation on collection; data quality; specification of purpose; limitation of use; security and safeguards; openness; individual participation; and accountability.

Activities of the Council of Europe

135. In 1980, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which had been considering privacy concerns since 1968, adopted the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data. In contrast to the OECD guidelines, which are voluntary in nature, the Council of Europe Convention is a contractual commitment of the ratifying States and is legally binding. It formulates 10 basic principles representing minimum standards that must be incorporated in the legislation of the contracting States. Although similar to those of OECD, these principles are narrower and more specific.

136. Further initiatives were undertaken by the Committee of Experts on Data Protection of the Council of Europe. Since the opening for signature of the Convention, the Committee has pursued a sectoral approach to data protection issues aimed at elaborating guidelines, in the form of non-binding recommendations, addressed to the Governments of the member States.

Proposals of the European Union

137. The European Union started to harmonize privacy laws in 1976. A decisive breakthrough for European privacy protection was reached in September 1990, when the Commission of the European Communities submitted a draft package containing six proposals in the field of personal data protection and information security. The package included the draft of a general directive on data protection applicable to all personal data files within the scope of European Union law. Within the context of the IMPACT2 programme of the European Union, the Commission intends to elaborate, when necessary, the instruments concerning personal data protection in specific sectors of information services, mailing list services, credit ratings and solvency services.


Activities of the United Nations

138. In 1988, the Sub Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities of the Commission on Human Rights elaborated draft guidelines for the regulation of computerized personal data files (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1988/22, annex I). In its resolution 45/95, the General Assembly adopted a revised version of these guidelines, which contain principles similar to those of the OECD guidelines and the Council of Europe Convention.

2. Harmonization of criminal law

139. In contrast to the progress achieved in administrative and civil privacy law, international harmonization in the field of criminal privacy law has still not really begun. The main initiative is being undertaken by the Council of Europe. The above-mentioned Convention of the Council of Europe contains, in article 10, a provision stating that "each party undertakes to establish appropriate sanctions and remedies for violation of ... the basic principles for data protection". However, this clause allows States to determine the nature of the sanctions and remedies (civil, administrative or criminal), as well as their scope of application.

140. Further studies to harmonize criminal privacy law were undertaken in the course of the work of the Select Committee of Experts on Computer-Related Crime of the Council of Europe, mentioned in paragraphs 119-122. The Committee recommended six basic principles that should be taken into account by member States when enacting legislation in the field of computer-related criminal privacy:


  1. "The protection of privacy against offences caused by modern computer technology is of great importance. However, this protection should be based primarily on administrative and civil law regulations. Recourse to criminal law should be made only as a last resort. This means that criminal sanctions should be used only in cases of severe offences in which adequate regulation cannot be achieved by administrative or civil law measures (ultima ratio principle);

  2. The respective criminal provisions must describe the forbidden acts precisely and should avoid vague general clauses. A precise description of illegal acts, without however resorting to a casuistic legislation technique, can easily be achieved, for example, for specific sensitive data. In cases in which precise descriptions of illegal acts are not possible, due to the necessity of a difficult balancing of interests (privacy versus freedom of information), criminal law should decline to incriminate substantive infringements of privacy and adopt a formal approach, based on administrative requirements of notification of potentially harmful data-processing activities. Failure to comply with these notification requirements and to obey regulations of the data protection authorities could then be subject to sanctions. These formal offences are in accordance with the principle of culpability as long as they can be considered bans per se (Gefahrdungsdelikte, delits-obstacles), which punish the endangering of privacy rights. In many areas, criminal privacy infringements, therefore, would presuppose both the infringement of formal requirements as well as the endangering of substantive privacy rights (principle of precision in the wording of criminal law);

  3. The criminalized acts should be described as clearly as possible by the respective penal law provisions . Therefore, a too-extensive use of the referral technique (that is, the technique pursuant to which activities regulated outside the penal law provisions are criminalized by reference) makes criminal provisions unclear and incomprehensible and should be avoided. If implicit or explicit references of the criminal law are used , the criminal provision itself should at least give an adequate idea of the forbidden acts (clearness principle);

  4. Different computer-related infringements of privacy should not be criminalized in one global provision . The principle of culpability requires a differentiation according to the interests affected, the acts committed and the status of the perpetrator, as well as of his intended aims and other mental elements (principle of differentiation);

  5. In principle, computer-related infringements of privacy should only be punishable if the perpetrator acts with intent. Criminalisation of negligent acts should be an exception requiring a special justification (principle of intent);

  6. Minor computer-related offences against privacy should be punished only in accordance with Council of Europe Recommendation No.(87)18 on the simplification of criminal justice, on complaint of the victim or of the Privacy Protection Commissioner or of the Privacy Protection Authority (principle of complaint)."5

141. In future, further harmonization of criminal privacy law might be achieved along the lines outlined in the draft directive of the European Union. Chapter VII, article 23, of that draft directive, which concerns sanctions , demands that each member State provide in its laws the use of "sufficient sanctions" to guarantee the rules based on the directive.

142. The issue of privacy protection was also discussed at the AIDP Colloquium on Computer Crime and Other Crimes against Information Technology (see paragraphs 116-126). The discussion demonstrated significant differences of opinion as to the means by which and the degree to which protection should be afforded by administrative , civil, regulatory and criminal law. The draft resolution of the colloquium recommended, therefore, that "non-penal measures should be given priority, especially where the relations between the parties are governed by contract" and that criminal provisions "should only be used where civil law or data protection law do not provide adequate legal remedies".

143. The Colloquium noted the basic principles, as advanced by the Council of Europe, that should be taken into account by States when enacting criminal legislation in this field. The draft resolution of the Colloquium proposes further that criminal provisions in the privacy area should in particular:

  1. "Be used only in serious cases, especially those involving highly sensitive data or confidential information traditionally protected by law;

  2. Be defined clearly and precisely rather than by the use of vague or general clauses (Generalklauseln), especially in relation to substantive privacy law;

  3. Differentiate as between varying levels and requirements of culpability;

  4. Display caution, in particular, as regarding matters of intent;

  5. Permit the prosecutorial authorities to take into account, in respect of some types of offences, the wishes of the victim regarding the institution of prosecution."

144. The draft resolution also noted as follows:

"The significance of protecting privacy interests in the transformed information age should be recognized, but also balanced by the legitimate interests in the free flow and distribution of information within society. These interests include the right of citizens to access, by legal means consistent with international human rights, information about themselves which is held by others."

145. The Colloquium concluded that further study of this issue should be undertaken.


Top A. Background
146. Computer-specific procedural law problems arise not only in the prosecution of computer-crime cases but also in many other fields of criminal investigation. This is especially illustrated by the prosecution of economic crimes , predominantly in the field of banking, where most of the relevant evidence is stored in automated data-processing systems. In the field of traditional crime, computer-stored evidence is already a significant issue, as is illustrated by cases of drug traffickers conducting their business using personal computers and international telecommunication systems. In future, new optical storage devices based on compact disc technology will further encourage the destruction of originals (if paper originals still exist) after the information has been recorded in automated data-processing systems. Owing to these new technical developments and to the growing use of computers in all areas of economic and social life, courts and prosecution authorities will depend to an increasing extent on evidence stored or processed by modern information technology.

147. The resulting replacement of visible and corporeal objects of proof by invisible and intangible evidence in the field of information technology not only creates practical problems but also opens up new legal issues: the coercive powers of prosecuting authorities, discussed in paragraphs 148-165; specific problems with personal data, discussed in paragraphs 166-170; and the admissibility of computer-generated evidence, discussed in paragraphs 171-175. The relevant problems are dealt with not only at the national level but also by various international organizations, as discussed in paragraphs 176-185.

Top B. The coercive powers of prosecuting authorities
148. In accordance with the practical requirements of investigations in the field of information technology and based on the various coercive powers existing in most legal systems, an analysis of the coercive powers of prosecuting authorities has to differentiate among search and seizure in automated information systems; duties of active cooperation; and wire-tapping of telecommunication systems and "eavesdropping" of computers.

1. Search and seizure in automated information systems

Problems of traditional law

149. Collecting data stored or processed in computer systems generally first requires entry to and search of the premises in which the computer system is installed (powers of search and entry of premises); it is then necessary that the data can be seized or captured (powers of seizure and retention).

150. With respect to the investigation of computer data permanently stored on a corporeal data carrier, the general limitation of the powers of search and seizure to the search and seizure of (corporeal) objects relevant to the proceedings or to finding the truth does not, in most countries, pose serious problems, since the right to seize and to inspect the corporeal data carrier or, in case of internal memories, the central processing unit also includes the right to inspect the data. In other words, there is no difference whether the data are fixed with ink on paper or by magnetic impulses in electronic data carriers. This conclusion is even more evident for provisions in which the powers of search and/or the powers of seizure are directed towards "anything" that would be admissible as evidence at a trial. The same evaluation also applies mutatis mutandis for powers of confiscation.

151. Application of the traditional powers of search and seizure might, however, cause problems in cases where data are not permanently stored in a corporeal data carrier. In these instances, it is questionable whether pure data or information can be regarded as an object in the sense of criminal procedural law. The same holds true if the legal principle of minimum coercion or of proportionality makes it unlawful to seize comprehensive data carriers, or complete computer installations, in order to gather only a small amount of data. Similarly, search and seizure of comprehensive data carriers could cause serious prejudice to business activities or infringe the privacy rights of third parties. Uncertainties may also arise in cases in which data carriers (such as core-storage, fixed-disk devices or chips) cannot be taken away to be evaluated on a police computer but must be analyzed using the computer system in question. In all these cases one might consider applying the powers of search not only to detect a computer installation and data but also to fix (especially to print) the relevant data on a separate data carrier and then seize this new object, which might be a diskette or a printout.

152. However, such a construction depends on the question of whether and to what degree the powers of search and seizure include the power to use technical equipment and (copyrightable) programs belonging to a witness or to an accused, in order to search and/or fix computer data. Only a few laws state that in the execution of search and seizure all necessary measures may be taken. Consequently, in many legal systems an effective search for pure data or information is not provided for by the law.

153. Special problems also arise with respect to search and seizure in computer networks. Here, it is questionable whether and to what extent the right to search and seize a specific computer installation includes the right to search databases that are accessible by this installation but that are situated in other premises. This question is of great practical importance since perpetrators increasingly store their data in computer systems located elsewhere in order to hinder prosecution. Specific problems of public international law arise with respect to search and seizure of foreign databases via international telecommunication systems. In these international systems, the direct penetration by prosecuting authorities of foreign data banks generally constitutes an infringement of the sovereignty of the State of storage (and often in a punishable offence); however, there might be some specific exceptions that could be developed internationally in which direct access to foreign data banks via telecommunication networks could be permissible and the lengthy procedure of mutual assistance avoided.

154. Problems of interpretation also arise with respect to extra safeguards for specific information. This is not only an issue with respect to the materials of professional legal advisers, doctors, journalists and other people who may , in some legal systems, be exempt from giving evidence. One of the latest disputes in this area is the question of how far the privileges of the press should also be applicable to electronic bulletin boards. Even more intricate questions arise with the application of safeguards and specific provisions to papers , documents and letters, especially in the fields of electronic mail and telecommunication systems. Owing to the rationale of these privileges , they should generally apply equally to paper-based and computer-stored material , especially as between traditional mail and electronic mail.


Law reform

155. In some countries attempts have been made to resolve these uncertainties and loopholes in the field of search and seizure of data and information by legislative amendments. In the United Kingdom, the general power of seizure provided by section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 is directed to "anything which is on the premises" and, under certain conditions, provides the power "to require any information which is contained in a computer" (for the latter duty of active cooperation, see paragraphs 157-162). In Canada, section 14 of the Competition Act and similar provisions in the Environmental Protection Act and the Fisheries Act permit searching for "any data contained in or available to the computer system". Furthermore, section 3(1) of the legislation proposed by the Law Reform Commission of Canada with respect to search and seizure defines objects of seizure as "things, funds, and information" which are reasonably believed to be takings of an offence, evidence of an offence or contraband.

156. Such sui generis provisions for gathering data not only provide legal certainty and a basis for efficient investigations in an EDP environment but, with respect to legal policy, can also be based on the argument that copying data is often a less severe inhibition than the seizure of data carriers. Moreover, sui generis provisions have the advantage of being able to solve specific questions of search and seizure of data, such as compensation of costs for the use of EDP systems, subsequent erasure of copied data that are no longer required for the prosecution, or search and seizure in telecommunication networks.

2. Duties of active cooperation

The practical problems

157. The aforementioned powers of entry, search and seizure, and even a sui generis power of gathering data, do not, in many cases, guarantee a successful investigation, since the traditional authorities often lack the knowledge of computer hardware, operating systems and standard software necessary to access modern data-processing systems. The very complexity of modern information technology creates many problems regarding access to computer systems, which can be solved, but only partially, by better police training. This is mainly the case with respect to specific security software and encryption designed to prevent unauthorized access to information. Serious problems are also caused by the multitude of data stored in computer systems and by the limited time and financial resources available to prosecuting authorities for checking these data. Consequently, the duties of citizens to cooperate with prosecuting agencies become of much greater importance in computerized environments than in non-technical, "visible" areas.

158. The traditional legal systems of most countries include two instruments that might be used to achieve the cooperation necessary for gathering evidence in a computerized environment: the duty to surrender seizable objects of evidence and the duty to testify. In some countries, additional and more extensive provisions or reform proposals have been enacted or suggested.


Duties to surrender seizable objects

159. The duty to surrender seizable objects is often coupled with the powers of search an seizure. In many countries the holder of a seizable object is obliged to deliver it on request to the (judicial) authorities; however, some legal systems do not provide such an obligation, and in some countries the respective court orders are not enforceable. The duty to surrender seizable objects can help the investigating authorities, especially in selecting specific data carriers from among the many tapes and diskettes that are usually stored in a computer centre. However, the obligation to surrender seizable objects does not generally include the duty to print or deliver specific information stored on a data carrier. Consequently, in many countries the powers of seizure and the duties to surrender seizable objects can only support voluntary printing of specific information. Practice with respect to search and seizure in the field of banking shows that banks often voluntarily print out specific data in order to prevent the seizure of large volumes of data carriers. However, the threat of a comprehensive seizure and serious prejudice to business activities cannot be regarded as a satisfactory legal solution for the relevant problems.


Duties to testify

160. In many cases an important duty of active cooperation can be based on the duties to testify, i.e. the duty of (unsuspected) witnesses to "testify", to "tell the truth", to "answer questions" etc. This is especially the case in countries in which the traditional duties to testify contain the more extensive obligation that the witness refresh his or her knowledge of the case, e.g. by examining account books, letters, documents and objects that are available to the said witness without special inconvenience, and to make notes and bring them along to the court. However, in most legal systems the traditional duties to testify cannot be extended to efficient duties of cooperation , especially not to the printing out of specific information. The main reason for this conclusion is the fact that the duty to testify, and consequently the duty of witnesses to refresh their knowledge, refers only to knowledge they already had in mind and not to new information. A different conclusion would also confuse the roles of witnesses and experts. Furthermore, in many countries the witness must testify before a judge, and in some countries before the public prosecutor, but not before police conducting the investigation; in some legal systems, the duties to testify exist only at a later stage of the proceedings and not during the police investigation. Moreover, the requirement that a (written or oral) court summons be given to the witness in due time prior to the proceedings could make such proceedings ineffective.

Law reform

161. To make investigations in computerized environments more efficient, some countries have recently enacted or suggested new compulsory duties to produce specific information. According to the police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 1of the United Kingdom, the constable "may require any information which is contained in a computer and is accessible from the premises to be produced in a form in which it can be taken away and in which it is visible and legible". In Canada, the Mutual Legal Assistance Act provides for an evidence gathering order addressed to a person "to make a copy of a record or to make a record from data and to bring the copy or record with him". However, with respect to data accessible via international telecommunication networks, these provisions leave open the question whether and to what degree a State, in accordance with international public law, has the right to oblige its citizens to gather evidence in foreign countries. Furthermore, other than in respect of recognized privileges, it is unclear under which conditions citizens have the right to deny cooperation.

162. The question whether or not such duties to produce and hand over computer printouts should be recommended de lege ferenda is difficult to judge and requires a differentiation between the duties of witnesses and the duties of defendants or suspected persons. With respect to (innocent) witnesses, there are good arguments for the introduction of such a duty. However, with respect to the defendant or suspect, there are equally good arguments that a duty of active cooperation should be rejected since this duty could impede the accused's right to remain silent and could infringe upon the privilege against self-incrimination. It is true that the wording of article 14(3)g of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights only guarantees that, in the determination of any criminal charge against a person, everyone shall be entitled to the minimum guarantee of "not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt". However, the reasons underlying this guarantee could justify a general privilege against any active self-incrimination.

3. Wire-tapping and "eavesdropping"


Problems of traditional law

163. Tapping telecommunication lines and eavesdropping on computer systems can assist criminal investigations, especially in cases where data are only transmitted and not permanently stored, where data merely cross a country or where permanent observation of telecommunications or computer activities is necessary. These investigative acts, however, constitute not only a highly efficient means of prosecution but also a very severe intrusion into the civil liberties of the person whose communications have been surveyed. This is primarily based on the fact that tapping telecommunication systems and eavesdropping on computers is, generally, a permanent and clandestine intrusion, whereas the above-mentioned powers of entry, search and seizure usually constitute a single, "visible" interference with civil liberties. Consequently, in most countries the statutory requirements for telephone tapping and the recording of telecommunications are much more stringent than for other coercive measures.

164. The question whether the traditional powers of wire-tapping can be applied to tapping other telecommunication services and computer systems is answered differently in various countries. No computer-specific issues arise in legal systems in which the statutory law permits, for example, "surveillance of the telecommunication traffic including the recording of its content". On the other hand, computer-specific problems of interpretation exist, especially in countries that permit only "monitoring of conversations" or "surveillance and tapping of the telecommunication traffic on sound carriers". Such clauses are particularly problematic if an analogous application of coercive powers in criminal procedural law is not jurisprudentially permissible.


Law reform

165. To avoid problems of interpretation, some countries have already enacted or proposed new legislation that would make it possible to tap all kind of telecommunications under the same conditions as must be met for tapping telephone conversations. In Denmark, a new provision of the Administration of Justice Act was passed in 1985, according to which the police. under certain conditions , may "interfere in private communication by ... tapping telephone conversations or other similar telecommunication". In 1986, in the United States, the Electronic Communication Privacy Act extended legal protection and powers of wire-tapping from aural communication (covered by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act of 1968) to electronic communication. Similarly, in the Federal Republic of Germany, an amendment to the Criminal Procedural Code in 1989 11extended the possible use of wire-tapping to public telecommunication networks. With respect to future policy-making, such clarifications are helpful since telecommunication between computers probably does not merit more protection than telecommunication between persons.


C. Specific problems with personal data
166. Potentially coercive powers for collecting evidence in the field of information technology, as analyzed above, cover both personal and non-personal data. With respect to personal data, however, there are additional legal problems that mainly concern gathering, storing and linking personal data in the course of criminal proceedings. In this field of "privacy protection in criminal matters", legal requirements vary considerably among countries. Differences between various legal systems are found not only in substantive law requirements but also in the constitutional background, legal context and legislative technique of the relevant provisions.

167. An extensive discussion of the underlying constitutional implications regarding the gathering, storing and linking of personal data exists in only a few countries. For example, in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court, in its famous "census decision", recognized that the State's storage of personal data, especially in computer systems, could influence citizen's behaviour and endanger their general liberty of action and must therefore be considered as a violation of civil liberties ("right of informational self-determination"), which requires an express and precise legal basis. This legal balance must balance the interests of the individual and the right to privacy, on the one hand, and the interests of society in the suppression of criminal offences and the maintenance of public order, on the other hand. The new Constitution of Spain of 1978, the new revised Constitution of Portugal of 1982, the Constitution of the Netherlands of 1983 and the new Constitution of Brazil of 1988 even contain specific safeguards protecting their citizens' privacy against the incursions of modern computer technology. However, in many other countries the gathering and storing of personal date are not (yet) considered to be of constitutional relevance and are dealt with by the legislature in ordinary statutory (non-constitutional) law on a voluntary basis.

168. In regulating the legality of gathering, storing and linking personal data (either on a constitutional, compulsory basis or on an ordinary, voluntary legal basis), various legal systems place the relevant provisions in different contexts and laws. A few countries, such as Germany, intend to place most of the respective provisions within the purview of their criminal procedural law.. This legislative technique has the advantage that the criminal procedural code retains its monopoly over the application of criminal law and thus retains the exclusive enumeration of powers regulating the infringement of civil liberties in the course of criminal prosecution. However, most countries (uniquely or in part) regulate the legality of police files within their general data protection acts; in most cases the relevant provisions are applicable both to the enforcement activity of the police (prosecution of crimes) and to its preventive action (maintenance of public order). Some countries exclude police files, completely or partly, from their general data protection laws and/or create specific acts or decrees for all types of (law enforcement or preventive) police data. In a number of countries, additional specific laws concerning criminal records exist. However, there are also legal systems without any statutory legal provisions regulating the general use of personal data in the police sector.

169. Apart from these questions of placement and context of the relevant statutes, the legislative technique, content and control mechanisms of the relevant laws also vary. With respect to legislative technique, some countries, such as Germany, consider a more detailed and precise regulation necessary; other countries resort to more or less general clauses.

170. As far as the contents of the various laws are concerned, serious limitations rarely seem to be applicable to police files. In many countries, far-reaching and precise regulations concerning the deletion of entries exist only with respect to registers of criminal convictions.


D. Admissibility of computer-generated evidence
171. The admissibility of computer-generated evidence is not only important for the use of computer records in the criminal trial process but is also essential to define the extent of the above-described coercive investigatory powers, including those of mutual assistance. In most countries coercive powers are applicable only to material that would be admissible in evidence at a trial, if specific computer data or printouts could not be used as evidence; consequently, they could also not be searched and seized. In practice, the various legal problems are particularly crucial since computer printouts and computer data can easily be manipulated, a phenomenon that is illustratively described as the "second-hand nature" of computer printouts.

172. The admissibility in courts of evidence from computer records depends to a great extent on the underlying fundamental principles of evidence in the particular country. It is necessary to differentiate among varying legal systems, including but not limited to (a) civil law countries and (b) common law countries. Other legal systems, such as Islamic law, incorporate elements from one of these two primary types of systems.

1. Civil law countries

173. Civil law countries and many other countries operate according to the principle of free introduction and free evaluation of evidence (systeme de l'intime-conviction). In these countries the judge can, in principle, consider all kinds of evidence and then weigh the extent to which the court can rely on the evidence. Legal systems based on these principles do not, in general , hesitate to introduce computer records as evidence. Problems occur only when procedural provisions contain specific regulations for the proof of judicial acts or proof with legal documents.

2. Common law countries

174. Contrary to the legal situation in civil law countries, common law countries are characterized by an oral and adversarial procedure. In these countries a witness can only testify concerning his or her personal knowledge, thereby permitting the statements to the verified by cross-examination. Knowledge from secondary sources, such as other persons, books or records, is regarded as hearsay evidence and is, in principle, inadmissible. Additionally, the "best-evidence" rule generally requires that originals, rather than copies, be introduced as evidence before the court in order to lessen the chance of fraud and error. There are, however, several exceptions to the hearsay and best-evidence rules, such as the "business records exception" or the "photographic copies exception". The business records exception, for example, permits a business record created in the course of everyday commercial activity to be introduced as evidence even if there is no individual who can testify from personal knowledge. If certain prerequisites are met, copies of certain types of records may also be permitted. The questions whether computer files are "real evidence" and whether computer printouts fall under one of the exceptions of the hearsay rule have been the subject of extensive debate. The courts in some common law countries have accepted computer printouts as falling within the business records exception. Other common law countries have elaborated new laws allowing computer records to be admitted as evidence if certain conditions are met.

3. Islamic law countries

175. Under Islamic law, computer crime falls within the area of taazir offences, which operates according to the same principles of evidence law as civilian systems: the free introduction and evaluation of evidence (systeme de l'intime-conviction). In adjudicating taazir offences the judge weighs the reliability of evidence, and thus computer records are generally admissible in the prosecution of computer crime.


E. International harmonization
176. In procedural law, international action has already commenced in all of the areas described above and has been concerned with (a) the field of coercive powers; (b) the legality of processing personal data in the course of criminal proceedings; and (c) the admissibility of computer-generated evidence in court proceedings.

1. Coercive powers in the field of information technology

177. One example of international harmonization of the above-mentioned coercive powers in information technology derives primarily from the guarantees of article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The European Court of Human Rights applied these guarantees especially in the area of wire-tapping. In the Klass case,the Court confirmed the legality of the German law on limitations of the secrecy of letters, post and telecommunication, which, under specific conditions, provides the authorities with the competence to supervise


Top A. Security in the electronic data-processing environment
186. Society increasingly relies on automated systems to carry out many essential functions in day-to-day life. If these systems are to be depended upon, it is essential that the persons responsible for their operation recognize the vulnerabilities to which they are subject and take steps to implement appropriate safeguards.

187. An EDP system can be considered as a group of assets of varying sensitivity related to the maintenance of tree basic requirements: confidentiality, integrity and availability.

188. EDP security, while a relatively recent discipline, is subject to a variety of interpretations. Historically, security measures have been applied to the protection of classified information from the threat of disclosure in a national security context. Recently, much attention has been directed to the issue of individual privacy as it relates to personal information stored in computerized data systems. Another consideration is data integrity in financial, scientific and process control applications. The security of computer installations themselves is of great concern to many organizations, owing to the significant financial investment involved.

189. Since all of these interpretations of EDP security may have significance to different users, a practical definition is needed to account for the wide range of concerns. For the purpose of this Manual, EDP security is defined as that state reached when automated systems, data and services are receiving appropriate protection against accidental and deliberate threats to confidentiality, integrity or availability.

190. Security, like insurance, is to a large extent applied risk management, defined as the attempt to archive a tolerable level of risk at the lowest possible cost. The goal is to reduce the risk exposure of the facility to an acceptable level, best achieved by a formal assessment of risk. This includes a number of components, such as the identification of EDP assets, values, threats and vulnerabilities and the financial impact of each threat-asset combination; estimation of the frequency of occurrence for each chosen threat-asset pair; and choice of safe-guards and implementation priorities for security measures. Safeguards should not only be cost-effective but should also provide a judicious balance between those designed to prevent threats, those to detect threats occurrences or security infractions and those to respond to the threats that inevitably occur. Risk analysis is a team function that must involve managers from user, application, systems and operations areas in the establishment of priorities and the allocation of funds for security measures. In some cases, where confidentiality is a specific concern, additional protection must be provided through the application of mandatory regulatory requirements. Government classified information is subject to such regulations.

Top B. Assets
191. Three general categories of assets in the computer environment can be targeted for protection, each posing a distinct protection problem given is unique sensitivities.

1. Software, data and information

192. Protection requirements for software, data and information are based on the need to preserve confidentiality, integrity and availability. Confidentiality, or the need to protect from disclosure, can be required because a system contains personal data, information proprietary to an organization or data related to national security. Even waste material may require protection up to the time of is destruction.

193. Software and data integrity are also requirements of all computer systems. Users of the system require assurance that unauthorized changes, deliberate or accidental, do not take place. The integrity of all software, utilities and applications must be above question, otherwise the results of manipulating the data will not be practicable.

194. To be of value, software and data must be available for use within an acceptable time-frame. The availability concern is important in both the long and short term. The properties of confidentiality, integrity and availability can also be applied to other information assets, such as system documentation, descriptive materials and procedural manuals, control forms, logs and records.

2. Data-processing services

195. In numerous cases the sensitivity of the information handled may not be as significant as the services performed. Service can be the most important asset requiring protection in cases where national security, the safety or livelihood of individual citizens, or essential services are dependent upon computer systems. Air traffic control, police information service, medical monitoring systems, electronic funds transfer systems and all services where processing is time-sensitive, in which availability is an important goal, are examples of this type of dependency.

3. Electronic data-processing equipment and facilities

196. The third category of assets requiring protection involves tangible property in the EDP environment, including computer equipment and supplies, the physical site facilities, machine rooms, media libraries, data preparation areas and terminal areas, as well as environmental services, such as power, air-conditioning and lightning.

197. Although these three categories represent the features of computer systems that security measures should target, the current limitations of computer security technology require that a much broader view of safe-guards be taken. Computer security is a weak-link phenomenon. To ensure that complete protection is provided to EDP assets, other established security areas, such as administrative, personnel, physical and communication-electronic security, must be taken into consideration. There is little point in emphasizing sophisticated systems features if more basic and perhaps more vulnerable areas are slighted. It also has been noted that, owing to the cost or unavailability of technical features in computer systems, physical or procedural safe-guards are sometimes practical alternatives.

Top C. Security measures
198. EDP security is considered to consist of seven essential components: administrative and organizational security; personnel security; physical security; communication-electronic security; hardware and software security; operations security; and contingency planning.

1. Administrative and organizational security

199. Administrative security involves the development of an overall security policy and the establishment of procedures for its implementation. While specific security administrative practices will vary considerably depending on the size and nature of the work performed by an organization, minimum requirements include the following:

  1. The development of procedures to ensure that risks are identified;

  2. The definition of individual security duties and the appropriate assignment of responsibilities;

  3. The designation of restricted areas;

  4. The establishment of authorization procedures;

  5. The identification of external and contractual dependencies;

  6. The preparation of contingency plans.

200. Second only to the necessity for the established policy and procedures for EDP security is the requirement for an effective organization to administer it. It is essential that senior management be aware of EDP security requirements and of the fact that a close working relationship must be cultivated between automated system management and the group responsible for overall security.

2. Personnel security

201. Personnel security includes specifying security requirements in job descriptions and ensuring that incumbents meet these requirements and are provided with adequate security motivation and training. It involves supervising access to and control over system resources through appropriate personnel identification and authorization measures. It further requires attention to hiring and employment termination procedures. External service or support personnel such as maintenance and cleaning staff or contract programmers who have unsupervised access to restricted areas should be subject to the same personnel security measures as regular employees.

3. Physical security

202. All EDP facilities should be provided with physical protection in order to ensure security commensurate with the sensitivity of the data being processed and the service being provided. The following factors should be borne in mind when physical security measures are chosen:


  1. Site planning (e.g. location and layout, building construction, heating, lighting, fencing and shielding);

  2. Control of access to restricted areas (e.g. perimeter security, visitor control, key and badge control, guard staffs and intrusion alarms)

  3. Protection against physical damage (e.g. fire, flooding, explosion, wind, earthquake and physical attack);

  4. Protection against power and environmental failures (e.g. air-conditioning, water-cooling, power-monitoring, un-interruptible power-sources and dust control);

  5. Protection of EDP media and supplies (e.g. waste disposal, storage containers, transportation, postal procedures and packaging).

The close relationship between the physical, environmental and hardware aspects of EDP security makes coordination between computer system and traditional security staff essential, particularly during the planning and design stages of new systems and facilities.

4. Communications-electronic security

203. Telecommunication are almost invariably a fundamental component of automated systems, and their use has the effect of extending the geography of the security concern and of complicating service availability. As the communication facets multiply, so do the possibilities of crossed communication between lines, misrouting of information and the wire-tapping of, and monitoring of electromagnetic radiation from hardware. Some possible countermeasures for communications and electronic threats include electronic screening, filtering encryption and specially designed terminals. However, the inherent complexity of communications systems requires that each case be approached individually. As dependence on communications become greater, so too does the probability that the ability to provide the automated service could be lost because of a failure in the communication system.

5. Hardware and software security

204. Hardware security relates to those protective features implemented through the architectural characteristics of the data-processing equipment, as well as the support and control procedures necessary to maintain the operational integrity of those features.

205. Computer systems security features, whether implemented in hardware, software or micro-programmed firmware, can be addressed in five categories:

  1. Identification mechanisms to identify authorized users;

  2. Isolation features that ensure that users of the system are restricted from accessing devices, software and data to which they are not entitled;

  3. Access control features that provide for selected sharing of system resources by removing or negating isolation measures for authorized cases;

  4. Surveillance and detection measures, which assist in the detection of security violations, usually implemented by software;

  5. Response techniques to counter the harm of security violations, such as redundant components and circuits, and error correction logic.

6. Operations security

206. Operations security relates to the policy and produces that are necessary to ensure that the required operational capability is always available and that security exposures within the environment are acceptable. Once an environment has been selected that presents minimal inherent weaknesses, the vulnerabilities within the environment should be reduced as much as is practicable. The most important step in this process is to ensure that responsibilities are clearly assigned. The concept of separation of duties and the concept of least privilege are helpful in this regard. In shared systems, the separation of duties concept means that no single individual can subvert controls on the system and the least privilege concept ensures that no one is granted a capability for which there is no well-substantiated operational necessity.

207. The considerations involved in establishing and maintaining an adequate security programme are, briefly, as follows:

  1. Identification of the EDP assets (data, software, hardware, media, services and supplies) requiring protection;

  2. Establishment of the value of each of the assets;

  3. Identification of the threat associated with each of the assets;

  4. Identification of the vulnerability of the EDP system to these threats;

  5. Assessment of the risk exposure associated with each asset (probability of frequency of occurrence multiplied by impact of occurrence);

  6. Selection and implementation of security measures;

  7. Audit and refinement of the EDP security programme on a continuing basis.

208. It is generally recognized that absolute security is an unrealistic goal. An adversary with sufficient motivation, resources and ingenuity can compromise the most sophisticated security safeguards. An optimum security policy is one in which the cost of implementing protective mechanisms has been balanced against the reduction in risk achieved. Although security measures can be costly, experience has shown that adequate security is inexpensive compared to the potential consequence of failure to provide appropriate protection.

7. Contingency planning

209. Every EDP system has been developed to perform some type of service or to fulfill a role. The plans for achieving the goals associated with that role are, in most instances, based on normal operating conditions. However no amount of precautionary work can preclude the occurrence of situations that produce unexpected disruptions in routing operations. Contingency planning is therefore a basic requirement in the EDP security program, regardless of the sensitivity of the information processed or the size of the installation providing the service.

Top D. Law enforcement and legal training
210. The dynamic nature of computer technology, compounded by specific considerations and complications in applying traditional laws to this new technology, dictate that the law enforcement, legal and judicial communities must develop new skills to be able to respond adequately to the challenge presented by computer crime. The growing sophistication of telecommunications systems and the high level of expertise of many system operators complicate significantly the task of regulatory and legal intervention.

211. Familiarity with electronic complexity is slowly spreading among the general population. It is a time when young people are comfortable with a new technology that intimidates their elders. Parents, investigators, lawyers and judges often feel a comparative level of incompetence in relation to "complicated" computer technology. In their recent book, Hafner and Markhoff contend that society is in a transition, in terms of general familiarity with computers and their use. Training in this area and familiarity with the concepts behind complex computer techniques such as trojan horses and salami slices are required before law enforces can operate adequately.

212. Until recently, computer-related crime was concentrated in the economic environment. The law enforcement community responded by training existing commercial crime or fraud experts in the specialized area of computer crime investigation. However, modern experience indicates that computer crime has progressed far beyond the economic environment and is evident in many areas of traditional criminal activity. For example, drug traffickers can utilize data banks to organize transactions and store records of their contacts. Sex offends have utilized computer bulletin boards to identify potential victims. A coordinated and concentrated effort must be made to provide investigators, prosecution authorities and the courts with the necessary technical means and expertise to adequately and properly investigate all types of computer crime. To adopt this approach will require a dedication to efficient training.


213. Few individuals possessing the necessary blend of experience and technical understanding in computer technology are employed in law enforcement. Teaching computer techniques to individuals in all sectors of the justice system will promote an appreciation of the complexities that have arisen in this new area of enforcement and will foster consistency in the application of criminal sanctions and procedures. For example, traditional search and seizure techniques are conducted in an environment where the evidence being sought is visible or otherwise tangible. In the electronic environment, however, courts and investigators alike are often unsure how to apply traditional evidence procedures to intangible information. In addition, very few legislative or procedural guidelines exist. Proper training in clearly developed search and seizure techniques is required to ensure the preservation of evidence consistent with accepted principles of admissibility of evidence, while at the same time protecting the rights of all parties to the action.

214. An appropriate training programme would, therefore, impart a thorough understanding in five areas.

1. The difference between a civil and a criminal wrong

215. Since not all computer-related abuses may constitute a criminal offense, it is necessary to be able to differentiate between infringements of the civil law and the criminal law, as well as to determine what are merely social nuisances. This is important for the purposes of establishing liability and respecting the rights of citizens, and it also permits scarce police resources to be concentrated on and allocated to conduct that is truly deserving of the criminal sanction.

2. The technology

216. To address computer crime, most police departments are allocating a greater proportion of resources to their economic or fraud investigation divisions, since many types of computer crime occur in the course of business transactions or affect financial assets. Accordingly, it is important for investigators to know about business transactions and about the use of computer in business.

217. To be able to understand fully the potential for criminal exploitation of computer technology, regardless of whether it is business-related, investigators must have a thorough understanding of that technology. Experience has demonstrated that the assistance of technical experts is not sufficient. The ideal situation is to have investigators with not only solid criminal investigation backgrounds but also supplementary technical knowledge. This is similar to the traditional approach, where many police forces ensure that their fraud investigators, although not necessarily accountants, possess a thorough understanding of financial and business record-keeping.

218. By extension, the administrators of the criminal justice system must also ensure that those who fulfill the prosecutorial and judicial duties possess enough technical knowledge to be able to properly prosecute and adjudicate computer crimes.

3. Proper means of obtaining and preserving evidence and of presenting is before the courts

219. Investigators have always been expected to be well trained in obtaining evidence, maintaining its continuity and integrity and presenting it to the prosecutorial authorities in a manner such that it may be considered by the courts. These processes presented little difficulty when the evidence was tangible and detectable by human senses. Computer technology, however, has introduced new challenges to the gathering and preservation of evidence. Investigators must be able to search for, gather, analyze, maintain the continuity and integrity of, and present computer evidence for the purposes of judicial hearings. It must be done in a manner that is fair to the parties concerned and that does not risk damaging or modifying the original data. This requires a special knowledge of and the development of investigatory techniques that will be judicially acceptable. It also requires an understanding of the laws of evidence of the particular jurisdiction.

4. The intricacies of the international nature of the problem

220. National boundaries, which in the past may have hindered the activities of criminals, have effectively disappeared with the advent of modern telecommunications. In gathering evidence, investigators must be able to understand and deal with international issues, such as extradition and mutual assistance. The laws of evidence, criminal procedure and data protection of other jurisdictions must be considered when pursuing international investigations.

5. The rights and privileges of the accused and the victim

221. Investigators, prosecutors and others involved in the investigation and prosecution of computer crime must be fair to both the accused and the victim in order to ensure equitable application of the law. Additionally in dealing with international investigations, investigators should also understand the rights and privileges in the order jurisdiction to ensure the integrity and fairness of the investigation. Respect for the rights and privileges of all persons concerned will not only ensure the credibility of the investigators and others who present these matters before the courts, but it may also help to instill confidence in the citizenry that the criminal justice system can adequately and fairly deal with the challenges posed by the computer criminal.


E. Victim cooperation in reporting computer crime
222. In paragraph 30, the term "dark figure" was briefly discussed. All studies in this area have indicated that the true extent of computer-related crime in unknown, since most crimes are either not detected or are not reported to the responsible authorities. The inability or reluctance of victims to identify incidents of computer crime must be addressed.

223. International studies have examined the relation behind this reluctance, evident particularly in the financial sector, to report computer crime. Loss of consumer confidence in a particular business and in its management can lead to even greater economic loss that that caused by the crime itself. In addition, many managers fear personal repercussion if responsibility for the infiltration is placed at their door. Victims have complained about the inconvenience of lengthy criminal investigations and indeed have questioned the ability of authorities to investigate the crime. These concerns, however, must be balanced by the equally important consideration that, in the absence of detection and sanction of crime, offenders will be encouraged to commit further computer-related crimes.

224. Without the cooperation of victims of computer crime, efforts to suppress computer crime, can be only partially effective. Reporting incidents of crime to authorities and society at large is necessary to discourage criminal behaviour. In response to the concerns of the business community regarding consumer confidence, it is suggested that an open, proactive approach to computer crime in fact would instill public confidence in a company's commitment to preventing and detecting crime and to protecting the interests of its investors.

225. The accurate reporting of computer crimes provides an additional benefit. The more information the law-enforcement community has on new trends in computer crime, the better it can adapt existing methods of detection to respond to them. The experience and knowledge of those responsible for investigating and processing computer crimes would be immeasurably broadened.

226. Methods to encourage victim openness have been discussed by the Select Committee of Experts on Computer-Related Crime. The report of that Committee detailed various possible strategies, ranging from legislating cooperation to creating an independent body that would provide advice and assistance to victims. While no definitive solution was chosen, there was a consensus that reporting of crimes would promote public confidence in the ability of the law-enforcement and judicial communities to detect, investigate and prevent compute-related crime.


F. Developing a computer ethic
227. In contrast to the science of computers, which has only existed in this century, other sciences and disciplines have had a longer time in which to develop the ethical standards and principles that inform new developments. Codes of ethics in medicine, accounting, law and engineering, for example, are well established and a continuity of principles and ethics has been maintained as these codes are transferred from instructor to student.

228. The need for a similar, specialized ethic for computer technology is clear. Computer-specific ethical issues arise from the unique characteristics of computers and the roles they play. Computers are now the repositories of modern, negotiable assets, in addition to being a new form of asset in themselves. Computers also serve as the instrument of actions, so that the degree to which computer service providers and users should be responsible for the integrity of computer-output becomes an issue. Furthermore as technology advances into areas such as artificial intelligence, threatening to replace humans in the performance of some tasks, it takes on intimidating proportions.

229. The need for professionalism on the part of service providers in the computer industry, as well as on the part of systems personnel who support and maintain computer technology, is well recognized. Ethical codes are the natural consequence of realizing the commitment inherit in the safe use of computer technology in both the public and private sector.

230. There is a parallel need for professionalism on the part of users of computer systems, in terms of their responsibility to operate legally in full respect of the right orders. Users must be made aware of the risks of operation when systems are being used or installed; they have a responsibility to pursue and identify lapses in security. This will promote ethical conduct in the user community.

231. Education can play a pivotal role in the development of ethical standards in the computer service and user communities. Exposure to computers occurs at a very early age in many countries, often at the primary school level. This presents a valuable opportunity to introduce ethical standards that can be broadened as children progress through school and enter the workforce. Universities and institutes of higher learning should include computer ethics in the curriculum since ethical issues arise and have consequences in all areas of the computer environment.

232. In 1992, recognizing that with society's increasing dependence upon computer technology standards ensuring the availability and the intended operation of systems were required, OECD adopted guidelines for the security of information systems. As increased dependence results in increased vulnerability, standards to protect the security of information systems are just as important. The principles that OECD is promoting have broader application that the security of information systems; they are equally relevant for computer technology in general. Of primary importance among these principles is a statement of ethics that recognizes the rights and legitimate interests of others in the use and development of the new technologies (see paragraph 238).

233. The promotion of positive computer ethics requires initiatives from all sectors of society at the local, national and international levels. The ultimate benefit, however, will be felt by the global community.


G. International security of information systems
234. Lack of international coordination and cooperation can have detrimental effects on national and international economies, on trade and on participation in social, cultural and politic life. International understanding of, and domestic implementation of measures that are required to enhance the security of information systems and facilitate the international exchange of data and commerce are important. Confidence that countries are abiding by security principles promotes confidence in international trade and commerce.

235. It has been noted throughout this Manual that the present measures, practices, procedures and institutions may not adequately meet the challenges posed. There is a need for clarity, predictability, certainly and uniformity of rights and obligations, of enforcement of rights, and of recourse and redress for the violation of rights relating to information systems and their security.

236. The OECD guidelines for the security of information systems were developed to provide a foundation on which countries and the private sector acting singly and in concert may construct a framework for the security of information systems. The framework includes laws code s of conduct, technical measures, management and user practices and public education and awareness activities. The guidelines are intended to serve as a benchmark against which Governments, the public sector, the private sector and society may measure their progress.

237. The guidelines are addressed to the information systems. They are intended to accomplish the following:

  1. Promote cooperation between the public and private sectors in the development and implementation of such measures, practices and procedures;

  2. Foster confidence in information systems and the manner in which they are provided and used;

  3. Facilitate development and use of information systems, nationally and internationally;

  4. Promote international cooperation in achieving security of information systems."

238. guidelines are based on nine principles:


"1. Accountability principle

The responsibilities and accountability of owners, providers and users of information systems and other parties concerned with the security of information systems should be explicit.

2. Awareness principle

In order to foster confidence in information systems, owners, providers and users and other parties should readily be able, consistent with maintaining security, to gain appropriate knowledge of and be informed about the existence and general extant of measures, practices and procedures for the security of information systems.

3. Ethics principle

Information systems and the security of information systems should be provided and used in such a manner that the rights and legitimate interests of others are respected.

4. Multidisciplinary principles

Measures, practices and procedures for the security of information systems should take account of and address all relevant considerations and viewpoints, including technical, administrative, organizational, operational, commercial, educational and legal considerations and viewpoints.


5. Proportionality principle

Security levels, costs, measures, practices and procedures should be appropriate and proportionate to the value of and degree of reliance on the information system and to be severity, probability and extent of potential harm, as the requirements for security vary depending on the information system.

6. Integration principle

Measures, practices and procedures for the security of information systems should be coordinated and integrated with each other and other measures, practice and procedures of the organization so as to create a coherent system of security.

7. Timelines principle

Public and private parties, at both the national and international levels, should act in a timely and coordinated manner to prevent and to respond to branches of security of information systems.

8. Reassessment principle

The security of information systems should be reassessed periodically, as information systems and the requirements for their security vary over time.

9. Democracy principle

The security of information systems should be compatible with the legitimate use and flow of data and information in a democratic society."



A. General aspects
239. As modern society is heavily information-dependent, computer-related crimes are easily committed on an international scale. International access to information and the mobility of data are fundamental to the working of our economic systems. Distance, time and space have ceased to be obstacles in commercial transactions. There is no longer any need for the physical presence of human agents. As the manipulation and storage of data take place within the dimension of international telecommunication networks, the usual border controls are bypassed. International instruments containing principles of the transborder flow of data, such as those by the United Nations or OECD, focus clearly on the principle of free flow of information, tempered by concerns to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the transmitted information, particularly in the case of sensitive data. Given the utility of paperless commercial transactions in international commerce and the rapidly improving sophistication of electronic communications, the volume of cross-boarder computer has increased significantly.

240. Currently, whole sectors of economy, such as banking and international aviation, rely heavily or even exclusively on international telecommunication networks. With the continuing development of standards and norms for electronic data interchange (EDI), such as that under the auspices of the United Nation Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transportation (UN/EDIFACT), the use of EDI will increase substantially in the decade to come.

241. The international element in the commission of computer crime create new problems and challenges for the law. Systems may be accessed in one country, the date manipulate in another and the consequences felt in a third country. Hackers can operate physically operate in one country, move electronically across the world from one network to another and easily access databases on a different continent. The result of this ability is that different sovereignties, jurisdictions, laws and rules will come into play. More than in any other transnational crime, the speed, mobility, flexibility, significance and value of electronic transactions profoundly challenge the existing rules of international crime law.

242. There are a number of complex issues to confront, given the multiplicity of countries potentially involved in a crime. How can it be determined which country the crime was actually committed? Who should have jurisdiction to prescribe rules of conduct or of adjudication? In crimes involving multinational contacts, there will be frequently be conflicts of jurisdiction. Countering computer crimes committed from a distance and having and increasing range of international targets (such as country of commission of the crime, the number of actors and victims involved, and the range of potential consequences) will require a well-developed network of inter-State cooperation to attain effective investigation and prosecution. In the light of the technicalities of international interaction, cooperation between nations in criminal matters is crucial.

243. These issues have to be addressed by all countries, whether they be producers, users or consumers of the new information technologies, since these technologies ate becoming an integral part of economic, social and culture development.

244. In seeking solutions to the above problems, the international community should strive for the following:

  1. Maximizing cooperation between nations in order to address, firstly, the potential for enormous economic losses and, secondly, the general threat to privacy and other fundamental values that near-instantaneous cross-border electronic transactions may create;

  2. Worldwide protection so as to avoid "data paradises" or computer crimes havens where computer criminals can find refuge or launch there attacks;

  3. A lawfully structured cooperation scheme, taking into account and balancing the necessities of international trade and relations on the one hand and the rights and freedoms of the individual on the other hand.


B. The jurisdiction issue 1. The territoriality principle

245. There are a number of problems related to the issue of jurisdiction. In every computer crime, the determination of the locus delicti (the location of the offence) will affect the ability of a particular country to sanction the crime. Will the sanction arise by virtue of territorial jurisdiction and domestic law, or must extraterritorial principles apply?

246. Today, it is technologically possible for an operator to punch a keyboard in country A so as to modify data stored in country B, even the operator does not know that the data are stored there, to have the modified data transferred over a telecommunications network through several other countries, and to cause an outcome in country C. On the basis of the physical act, the technical modification, the transmission of the falsified data and the consequences, three or perhaps more countries will have been involved and may have a claim to jurisdictional competency.

247. Depending on which elements or stages of the crime are given priority, several countries in the above scenario could, within their full sovereignty, declare the incident as having occurred on their territory, thus invoking the principle of territorial jurisdiction in order to prosecute and sanction. This raises a potential jurisdictional conflict, as well as the question of the appropriate arbitration of these equal claim for jurisdiction, the applicability of the non bis in idem rule, and the impact of the lex mitior rule.

248. The recurring threat of computer viruses worms in another striking example of transnationality. If a virus infects the system in one location, the infection can spread with destructive rapidity and affect programmes throughout the international network. What criteria should apply in determining which country may act? Once again, several choices are available: the country in which the virus was introduced, all countries in which software or databases were affected and all countries in which results were felt. It is possible that it may not manifest itself far away from the country of origin. It is also possible that it may not manifest itself until considerable time has passed, when retracing the technological path of the of the original offender has become difficult, as, for example, in cases of the so-called time-bomb virus. What, then, determines the competency to prosecute and sanction? Can it be the best evidence rule or the first-come, first-served principle, or do the traditional solutions discussed below still stand firm?

249. The primacy of the principle of territoriality is generally accepted in sphere of criminal jurisdiction. The principle is based on mutual respect of sovereign equality between States and is linked with the principle of non-intervention in the affairs and exclusive domain of other States. Even in the exceptional event that a country might apply extraterritorial jurisdiction for a sake of protecting its own vital interests, the primacy of the extraterritorial principle is not altered.

250. The ubiquity doctrine is often referred to in determining the place of commission. The offence will be considered to have been committed in its entirety within a country's jurisdiction if one of the constitutive elements of the offence, or the ultimate result, occurred within that country's borders. Jurisdiction is equally applicable to co-perpetrators and accomplices.

251. Common law countries also use the effects doctrine in addition to focusing on the physical act. This doctrine locates crimes in the territory in which the crime is intended to produce, or actually does produce, its effects. Thus, where various elements or effects of a crime may occur in more than one country, the two doctrines of territorial jurisdiction may lead to concurrent, legitimate jurisdictional claims.

252. These positive conflicts of jurisdiction, while at first glance not very problematic in determining the appropriate judicial response, do contain some inherent risks. The most fundamental problem is the general refusal, particularly in civil law systems, to apply the double jeopardy rule. Thus, the accused is submitted to a multitude of prosecutions for the same act.

253. Equally important is the manner of classification of the multiple acts potentially involved in a pattern of computer crimes. In particular, in cases of repeated data manipulation, data espionage or unauthorized access, it is unclear whether the acts should be considered as separate crimes or as a single act by application of the principle of international connexity, by which a single prosecution for the whole transaction would be justified.

254. States should, therefore, endeavour to negotiate agreements on the positive conflicts issue. These agreements should address the following issues:

  1. An explicit priority of jurisdictional criteria: for example, of location of act over location of effect, of the place of physical detainment of the suspect over in absentia proceedings or extradition;

  2. A mechanism for consultation between the States concerned in order to agree upon either the priority of jurisdiction over the offence or the division of the offence into separate acts;

  3. Cooperation in the investigation, prosecution and punishment of international computer offences, including the admissibility of evidence lawfully gathered in the other countries, and the recognition of punishment effectively served in other jurisdictions. This would prevent unreasonable hardship to the accused, otherwise possible by an inflexible interpretation of the territoriality principle.

2. Other base of jurisdiction 255. The issue of international computer crime also requires an analysis of the principles of extraterritorial jurisdiction. State practice discerns the following theoretical grounds:


  1. The active nationality principle, which is based on the nationality of the accused. The principle, when applied in conjunction with the territoriality principle, may result in parallel concurrent jurisdictions, creating a situation of double jeopardy. The use of the active nationality principle is therefore generally confined to serious offences;

  2. The passive personality principle, which is based on the nationality of the victims. This principle has been highly criticized, since it could subject a national of State A, although acting lawfully in State A, to punishment in State B for acts done in State A to a national of State B, if the acts were unlawful in State B and State B were to apply the principle. On practice, therefore, this principle is seldom used;

  3. The protective principle, which is based on the protection of the vital interests of a State. By this principle, a State may exercise jurisdiction over foreigners who commit acts that are considered to be a threat to national security. Given the potential for abuse of this principle if security is interpreted too broadly, the protective principle is not highly favoured; in practice, therefore, it is often linked to other doctrines, such as the personality principle or the effects doctrine;

  4. The universality principle, based on the protection of universal values. It is usually effected on the basis of express treaty provisions but is otherwise rarely used. It is generally held that this principle should apply only in cases where the crime is serious, where the State that would have jurisdiction over the offence, based on the usual jurisdictional principles, is unable or unwilling to prosecute.

256. Other than the basic policy considerations as to whether a State should apply one or more of these bases of jurisdiction, it is unlikely that application of these principles of extraterritorial jurisdiction to information technology offences will create specific problems. Nevertheless, the characteristics of transnational computer crime do have the potential to involve an increasing number of States, thereby creating a jurisdiction network in which the ordering of the subsequent priorities is required.

257. There are no rules of international law, other than the principles of comity and non-intervention, that impose express limitations on the freedom of sovereign States in establishing extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction. Where there is strong international solidarity by way of customary or conventional international law, jurisdiction over important offences may be decided by the principle of universality, in addition to the applicability of other grounds of jurisdiction. No such conventions exist yet in relation to computer crime. Eventually, however, as has been the case in other major international crimes, international conventions will regulate this area.

258. A spirit of moderation might be expected from States in exercising these jurisdictional principles, in order to encourage international cooperation and to avoid significant conflicts of jurisdiction with other States. In that spirit, the passive personality principle, although sometimes used to protect the economic interests of nationals (natural or legal persons), is highly disputed, while universality is best limited to express treaty provisions. The protective principle may be relevant for certain types of computer offences, because it grants jurisdiction to a State over offences committed outside its territory, in the defence of fundamental (vital) interests.

259. There exists very little consensus on what constitutes vital interests. No doubt a sovereign State might consider attacks on data or telecommunication infrastructures, when related to basic government activities (police data, military data, State security systems etc.), to fall within its purview. However, a tendency may arise to consider certain economic interests, naturally involving a significant amount of transborder data flow, as a vital concern of the State. Nevertheless, caution is needed in regard to such extensions, since they can affect adversely the legitimate flow of information and data, as well as other economic and social interests. Therefore, the State concerned should be expected to take due account of the principles of cooperation, comity and reasonableness, which should govern State action in exercising extraterritorial jurisdiction.

260. Even if very few specific computer-related concerns seem apparent, the general issues in extraterritorial jurisdiction remain valid: the need for harmonized legislation (see paragraphs 268-273), the settlement of concurrent jurisdictional claims, the international validity of the non bis idem principle and the development of agreements on mutual cooperation and the transfer of criminal proceedings (see paragraphs 279-280).


C. Transborder search of computer data banks
261. One very specific transborder situation in relation to computer-related offences deserves particular attention. Within the international economic environment, in particular within multinational corporate structures, data are often stored centrally in one country (e.g. where headquarters are located), with on-line access available to company partners (e.g. subsidiary corporations) operating in the territory of other countries.

262. Criminal investigations in such situations are presented with the problem of how to retrieve the data, as potential evidence, that are stored abroad, when investigating by means of on-line access to that data. The question arises whether the investigating authorities may penetrate the database by direct access, without the intervention, knowledge or agreement of the State in which the data are located. Urgent situations compelling the preservation of evidence may require that data be made readily available or, at least, that they be seized and blocked, thereby securing their evidential value. A suspect with sufficient speed and expertise in the access to and the functioning of the system could otherwise interfere with the data and make them unavailable by, for example, erasing them or transmitting them to another data bank.

263. Traditional means for cooperation between States in criminal cases do exist, in the form of conventional mutual assistance agreements, particularly the procedure of the letters rogatory. This procedure, however, by which a State is requested to undertake an investigation on its own territory on behalf of the investigating State, is highly time-consuming. The investigation of crime in the computer environment requires quicker, more efficient action. Another problem arises when a person, natural or legal, is compelled by the investigating State to produce data located in another State, whether or not they are available by on-line access, even though under the law of the State of storage that person is obliged to secrecy.

264. There is no unanimity today on the solution to these problems. However, the view that the deliberate investigation of on-line data constitutes a violation of the sovereignty of the other State is probably correct, whether it is done by the investigating authorities from the premises of the suspect or from their own terminals. In fact, such access might even be considered in the other State as a form of computer crime, such as unauthorized access.

265. The only explicit rule in international public law relevant to this situation seems to be the non-intervention principle, which historically has been applied only when foreign agents have operated physically on a State's territory. Nevertheless, the direct penetration of data banks appears very similar to acts of physical intervention by official foreign agents. The analogy is strengthened if the acts of penetration also constitute an offence in the other State. However, some people will probably resist the analogy and accept the legality of this penetration.

266. There is a definite need to address these questions, which are indeed not hypothetical ones, and to find solutions that balance the requirement of quick action with the appropriate respect for the sovereign rights of the other State in matters of police or investigatory action within its territory. States could, therefore, strive to conclude agreements that make direct penetration acceptable only as an exception. Any exception should, in addition, be subject to a number of stringent conditions, such as the following:

  1. The freezing of data, by which any further operation on the data is rendered impossible, would be permissible only for preserving the data for evidentiary purposes;

  2. The use of this evidence in the investigating State would be subject to the explicit consent of the State where the evidence was stored;

  3. The right to penetrate data banks directly would be limited to serious offences only;

  4. Sufficient indication must exist that the usual method of mutual assistance would, for lack of rapidity, compromise the search for evidence;

  5. Upon commencement of the investigation, a duty would be imposed to immediately inform the authorities of the State being investigated.

267. The problem of on-line transborder searches of computerized data has not been adequately addressed so far. By virtue of not being cooperative acts, such actions do not fall within the traditional category of mutual assistance in criminal matters. However, the appropriate solution is not to view States as having a complete unilateral freedom to act, provided there is no violation of the non-intervention principle by physical interference. This potential area of conflict between States could be solved by a solution based on the principles mentioned above.

Top D. Mutual assistance in transborder computer-related crime
268. As discussed above, transnational computer crime can be efficiently addressed only if the countries involved agree to provide maximum cooperation in countering it. This cooperation is usually organized by multi- or bilateral conventions may given rise to a number of problems of which States should be aware.

269. First, as for other forms of international cooperation, the requirement of dual criminality may be an issue. Refusal of assistance could be based on the ground that the act in relation to which the request is made is not an offence in the territory of the requested State. Thus there is a clear need to make the substantive criminal law of computer crime correspond from State to State.

270. Even if the dual criminality rule is not an aspect of all incidents of mutual assistance, it is often a requirement in cases of search and seizure, which is a particularly important means of assistance where data are concerned. Double criminality, furthermore, is basic to other common cooperation modes, such as extradition, or other schemes for solving jurisdictional conflicts as discussed above. Unless domestic criminal legislation, as it develops, moves beyond expressions of sovereignty to espousing common principles as agreed among nations, conflicts will not be avoided. Efforts by States to harmonize their domestic laws will prevent conflicts of jurisdiction and, at minimum, will lay the basic groundwork for cooperation.

271. It is, therefore, imperative that States undertake action to achieve this aim. Such action may range from the undertaking of consultations among States prior to enacting domestic legislation; solutions for harmonization, such as recommended guidelines for national legislation; and the elaboration of a convention of substantive law that defines computer crime under international law, including the governing principles in jurisdiction and cooperation.

272. Secondly, a form of mutual assistance rendered to requesting States is the search and seizure of data banks or carriers that store or transmit information. The target of request is not the carrier itself but the intangible specific data. If seizure remains applicable only to physical objects, the carrier is still at issue. The technical storage capacity of such data banks and carriers often far exceeds the volume of content requested by the investigating State. Explicit rules should be elaborated in relation to the surplus of information a data bank or carrier might contain, which would allow the execution of letters rogatorys upon only the targeted data. Notions such as relevance, proportionality and defined purpose should necessarily be included.

273. A final concern relates to potential grounds of refusal, which almost uniformly include the protection of the essential interests of the requested party. Data that relate to the privacy of nationals, including, for example, financial or medical information, could be considered sufficiently sensitive by a State, in its role of protecting its citizens, to be an essential interest. Many computer-related investigations may concern tax fraud or violations of customs, import and export rules, equally subject to the essential public interest qualification. Again, it is to be expected that States interpret their treaty obligations in a practical manner, in a spirit of cooperation and international comity.

Top E. Extradition
274. Given the potential for multiple territorial and extraterritorial jurisdictions, resolving the resulting jurisdictional conflicts will often require an agreement between States. It is therefore possible that the effective exercise of an agreed jurisdiction will involve extradition, since the State of physical location of the suspect may not necessarily be the appropriate forum for prosecuting the crime.

275. The terms of traditional extradition treaties will remain applicable. Computer crimes do not appear to raise any specific difficulties, provided the requirements of the extradition law and/or treaty are met. The most important issues are the requirement, again, of double criminality, i.e. the impugned conduct would be an offence punishable under the law of both the requesting and the requested State, and the fulfilling of any other conditions that would include computer crime within the category of extraditable offences. This could be accomplished either by setting sanctions for the open formula, e.g. a maximum punishment of a certain number of months, or by including computer crime in the enumerated list of extradition crimes appended to the extradition treaty in question.

276. Both conditions require careful attention in the computer crime area. The first condition highlights once again the absolute need to legislate the substantive law in each State as consistently as possible, thus avoiding loopholes or conflicting interpretations of the requirements of criminality. Currently, there is insufficient international discussion in the definition of computer crime, or at least on the constitutive elements of the most significant criminal behaviour. The efforts of OECD, the Council of Europe and the United Nations have not yet produced conclusive results. Nevertheless, the reports of these bodies contain sufficient indicators to allow States to formulate criminal laws that are consistent with the criminal laws of partner States.

277. The second condition, the extraditable character of the offence, requires an attentive legislative drafting policy. In particular, offences such as unauthorized access to computers or telecommunications facilities are often characterized as minor offences, and penalty scales may not meet the minimum threshold standards of extraditable crimes. Unfortunately, experience shows that transborder hacking cases are common, significantly affecting important transnational economic networks. It might be advisable to consider serious penalties, at least in cases where the hacking affects the international relations of the victim, whether the victim is a legal or physical person or a State. Disregarding the use of extradition or other cooperation methods could seriously hinder the efficiency of the cooperative response to this important and disturbing phenomenon.

278. Other important concerns, not specific to networking but potentially magnified by it, relate to grounds of refusal where the offence for which extradition is requested is, under the law of the requested State, viewed as having been committed in whole or in part within the territory of that State. A second problematic scenario is possible if the invoked ground for jurisdiction is an extraterritorial one but the law of the requested State does not provide such jurisdiction in similar cases. These situations might also create positive or negative conflicts of jurisdiction. The creation of channels of consultation or negotiation on order to solve such conflicts is highly recommended.


Top F. Transfer of proceedings in criminal matters
279. As mentioned above, the exercise of jurisdiction in transborder cases involves the possibility of competing claims, which may eventually lead to multiple prosecutions and bring about friction between States. The technique of transfer of proceedings offers a rather effective mechanism to solve this problem in a harmonious way. By creating agreements by which one State can waive its jurisdiction rights on favour of another State, conflicting claims can be resolved. The reason for such an initiative, beyond avoidance of jurisdictional conflicts, are the effective administration of penal justice, the interests of the victim and the reintegration of the offender into society. In case where multiple proceedings are pending in two or more States, a provision can be made for compulsory consultation to reach a settlement.

280. Few conventions of this type are force today. The European Convention for the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters (1972), for example received a limited number of ratifications. However, the United Nations Model Treaty on the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters (General Assembly resolution 45/118, annex) represents an excellent basis for more effective international cooperation and deserves greater attention. The basic issues, e.g. the issues of double criminality and non bis in idem, remain similar to those in the other cooperation techniques, but again, any problems can be overcome. In the interests of the administration of criminal justice, which includes effective truth-finding and locating the most important or best items of evidence, agreements in this field may very well solve recurring, conflicting claims of jurisdiction while serving the interests of efficiency.


Top G. Concluding remarks and suggestions
281. In coping with the increase in transborder computer-related transactions, it is clear that a set of solutions elaborated by the international community represents an effective response. The problems predictable in confrontations among different States, whether common to all transborder crime situations or specific to computer crimes, require well-regulated solutions. Whether the problems are related to multiple jurisdiction conflicts, of a positive or negative nature, or to the requirements of mutual cooperation agreements, it is suggested that States should elaborate explicit rules to solve them.

282. Problems of concurrent jurisdiction based on the principle of territoriality are likely to be the most difficult to solve. Criminal law and jurisdictional questions are still integrated in national policy, and the implementation of that policy remains exclusively in the hands of the sovereign State.

283. Rather than seeking a solution through a conventional classification of priorities, a more effective action might be to develop a mechanism for mutual consultation and for allocating responsibilities on a case-by-case basis. A procedure for settling jurisdictional disputes by a body of experts knowledgeable in both jurisdictional issues and computer crime could also by developed. This could provide a speedy and flexible alternative to existing dispute-resolution mechanism, such as the Council of Europe Convention on Peaceful Settlements of Disputes.

284. It appears to be generally accepted that claims of extraterritorial jurisdiction are subsidiary to primary territoriality claims. Conflicts of extraterritorial jurisdiction should preferably also be settled by cooperative mutual consultation.

285. In the administration of criminal justice in a multi-sovereign environment, different cooperation techniques can be of relevance. Traditional techniques such as extradition or mutual assistance are generally applicable, provided that the basic requirements of double criminality and conditions for extradition are met. States must, therefore, operate with criminal laws that are as consistent as possible. Laws will be consistent only if there has been cooperation with international institutions such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, the British Commonwealth of Nations, OECD and similar groups. The imposition of penalties sufficient to classify international computer crimes as serious offences is also required.

286. In the search and seizure of data, the mass storage of information in data banks and its transmission through carriers may necessitate additional safeguards, with regard to the criteria for limiting acceptable purpose of search and seizure and for determining relevance in the selection of the data.

287. Many key issues could be properly addressed by the more extensive use of, and consequent greater confidence in, a mechanism for transferring criminal proceedings. It would be advisable to develop conventional agreements that offer cooperative avoidance of conflict, mutual assistance and effective administration of justice.

288. Finally, and more specifically, the legality of direct access to computerized data stored abroad, for evidentiary purposes, should be examined to determine the appropriate balance between, on the one hand, preservation of evidence and efficient prosecution, and on the other hand, respect of exclusive sovereign territorial rights. The basis for a valid solution could be found by combining the notion of a right to immediate access to information for the purpose of freezing and conservation, with the requirement that clearance be given by the other State before the frozen data could be used as evidence. Few if any transborder problems in computer crimes will resist solution by appropriate, balanced legal rules. What is fundamental is the political willingness, in a spirit of international cooperation, to tackle a crime that has no frontiers.



Top 289. This paper has attempted to provide a broad overview of the newest forms of computer and computer-related crime. It has exposed the history, extent and complexities of this phenomenon. The complexities, intrinsic to the technology itself and to the vagaries of human nature, are exacerbated by the inadequacies of current law. The paper has canvassed the various solutions that have been suggested and proposed some reform initiatives in the legal area. Pertinent issues for security in the electronic environment have been explored. In addition, the use of non-penal methods to combat this problem has been noted.

290. Many groups of experts in the computer and crime-enforcement fields have discussed, and continue to discuss, these issues. The discussions suggest that the phenomenon of computer crime has existed for some time and will not go away. Computer technology today is where automotive technology was in 1905. Significant developments lie ahead. Equally, we have not yet seen the full extent of computer-related crime.

291. Countries must be cognizant of the problem and realize its implications for their own social and economic well being.

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