EFF has joined forces with 110 NGOs today in a joint statement delivered to the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee, clearly outlining civil society non-negotiable redlines for the proposed UN Cybercrime Treaty, and asserting that states should reject the proposed treaty if these essential changes are not implemented.
The last draft published on November 6, 2023 does not adequately ensure adherence to human rights law and standards. Initially focused on cybercrime, the proposed Treaty has alarmingly evolved into an expansive surveillance tool.
Katitza Rodriguez, EFF Policy Director for Global Privacy, asserts ahead of the upcoming concluding negotiations:
The proposed treaty needs more than just minor adjustments; it requires a more focused, narrowly defined approach to tackle cybercrime. This change is essential to prevent the treaty from becoming a global surveillance pact rather than a tool for effectively combating core cybercrimes. With its wide-reaching scope and invasive surveillance powers, the current version raises serious concerns about cross-border repression and potential police overreach. Above all, human rights must be the treaty's cornerstone, not an afterthought. If states can't unite on these key points, they must outright reject the treaty.
Historically, cybercrime legislation has been exploited to target journalists and security researchers, suppress dissent and whistleblowers, endanger human rights defenders, limit free expression, and justify unnecessary and disproportionate state surveillance measures. We are concerned that the proposed Treaty, as it stands now, will exacerbate these problems. The proposed treaty concluding session will be held at the UN Headquarters in New York from January 29 to February 10th. EFF will be attending in person.
The joint statement specifically calls States to narrow the scope of criminalization provisions to well defined cyber dependent crimes; shield security researchers, whistleblowers, activists, and journalists from being prosecuted for their legitimate activities; explicitly include language on international human rights law, data protection, and gender mainstreaming; limit the scope of the domestic criminal procedural measures and international cooperation to core cybercrimes established in the criminalization chapter; and address concerns that the current draft could weaken cybersecurity and encryption. Additionally, it requires the necessity to establish specific safeguards, such as the principles of prior judicial authorization, necessity, legitimate aim, and proportionality.