Efforts to combat cybercrime through diplomatic initiatives, treaties, and other means are growing, but it is still not a battle that all countries are equally committed to fighting.
In the United States, recent initiatives have included the creation of a new State Department cybersecurity coordinator position, which will direct the department’s diplomatic efforts on cyber issues. Other U.S. efforts include the introduction of new legislation and growing calls for bilateral and multilateral treaties.
The United States has taken steps to increase international law enforcement cooperation as well; the FBI now has legal attachés focusing on cybersecurity in 61 nations, for example.
White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt and other Obama Administration officials have said in recent months that they plan to increase diplomatic pressure on other governments to take steps to address cybercrime, including urging more nations to sign the European Convention on Cybercrime, which aims to boost law enforcement cooperation in investigating and prosecuting cyber criminals.
The treaty has been signed by the United States and 29 European nations, but it has yet to be signed by Russia and China. Russia has objected to the treaty on grounds that it would grant foreign law enforcement officials excessive power to investigate crimes in other nations.
If the United States is to continue to gain ground against cybercrime internationally, it needs new strategies and concepts, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Among other new strategies, the United States needs to develop “a foreign policy that uses all tools of U.S. power to create norms, new approaches to governance, and consequences for malicious actions in cyberspace,” the report asserts. Part of this would entail strengthening diplomatic efforts to assist ongoing international law enforcement cooperation, says James Lewis, CSIS senior fellow and project director on the report. Certain types of crime, such as intellectual property theft, will likely require more engagement either bilaterally or through existing structures such as the World Trade Organization, according to the report.
The report also mentions several examples of existing international platforms that could serve as models for greater cybercrime-related cooperation. One existing model is the Financial Action Task Force, a multilateral body that seeks to develop rules surrounding money laundering and terrorist financing.