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Budapest Convention can be foundation for cyber security law: British Minister

Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain's Minister of State for the Commonwealth

Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth

By Aroonim Bhuyan,

New Delhi : As the world talks about crimes in cyber space and the need for a universal law to fight these, a British Minister is of the view that the Budapest Convention can be the foundation for such a global law to ensure cyber security.

“If you go back in recent history, you would have seen that within the Council of Europe, there was a convention called Budapest Convention which set certain conventions and certain premises in place on how this space can be managed,” Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, told IANS in an interview here.

“That was with a particular focus on issues of cyber security,” said Ahmad, who was here to attend the Fifth Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS).

The Convention on Cyber Crime of the Council of Europe, known as the Budapest Convention, serves as a guideline for any country developing comprehensive national legislation against cyber crime and as a framework for international cooperation between member-states of this treaty. It is supplemented by a Protocol on Xenophobia and Racism committed through computer systems.

The Convention was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at its 109th session in 2001 and came into effect in 2004.

With people talking of a single global convention, or a digital Geneva Convention, Ahmad said that his and his government’s view was “very clear” and that “there are certain governing rules already in place”.

“As we look to build for the future, we should take the common learning, the common principles applied through the Budapest Convention and see how they apply to the wider community,” he said.

“So, I am looking forward to greater collaboration building upon the common principles that have been provided by Budapest, to see how we can build them.”

Asked what the global challenges are in terms of cyber security, Ahmad said, “It is not only the challenges, it is also the opportunities.”

He referred to how different sections of Indian society — from farmers to students, from academics to business people — have been e-enabled through a variety of applications that provide for all.

“And on the other side of the coin, of course, are the challenges we face in terms of cyber security,” he said.

Stating that Britain, as also other countries, have been targeted in cyber attacks, he noted: “But equally, what has been demonstrably shown is why the impact that has taken place, the assessments that have been made, and simple steps in terms of ensuring greater security and greater international collaboration to prevent those who seek to cause destruction through cyber attacks were prevented from doing so.”

Asked how governments can come together in framing a common international law, the British Minister, who is of Indian origin, said that there should be a consensus that “we have the opportunities here of what cyber space is all about, the enabling opportunities it provides”.

“But at the same time those common principles also need to ensure the elements of security are addressed” and we can ensure that action is collectively taken against “those who seek to (destroy) us, those who may use the cyber space to promote terrorist causes, extremist causes”.

Ahmad said that at this year’s GCCS, ministers from different countries have laid out a vision “that there is a common cause we need to come together with”.

“You cannot build a house with the roof first, you need the foundation. And I think we have the foundation. That is why I referred to the Budapest Convention,” he added.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at aroonim.b@ians.in)


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