No ban on hacking tools, says Council of Europe



Bill Goodwin

The Council of Europe has dropped proposals to outlaw the use of "hacking" tools by IT departments, following an intense...



Bill Goodwin

The Council of Europe has dropped proposals to outlaw the use of "hacking" tools by IT departments, following an intense lobbying campaign by businesses.

The proposals were contained in the Council of Europe's Convention on Crime in Cyberspace, which aims to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to collaborate internationally.

The council provoked a storm of protest by including proposals in the treaty that would have made it illegal for anyone to disseminate software and techniques that could be used by hackers to illegally access systems.

Businesses and security experts claimed the proposals would also outlaw the software and techniques used by IT departments to legitimately protect the security of their IT systems.

But business organisations have welcomed the latest version of the treaty, which makes it clear that IT departments can use "hacking" tools to protect security.

IT lobby group Eurim said the new draft addresses many of the concerns raised by industry over earlier versions of the treaty.

"The involvement of industry in the development of this convention has been beneficial and we hope that this will prevent the imposition of expensive technical requirements that undermine confidence in e-commerce," said Philip Virgo, secretary general of Eurim.

Despite the improvements, Eurim is still concerned that the treaty could create new laws to cover crimes that can already be dealt with by existing laws, such as blackmail by e-mail, for example.

"We believe existing laws should be extended to cover crimes committed using electronic means where they currently do not. New laws should be introduced only where genuinely new crimes are identified that are not covered," said Virgo.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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