Explanatory Report

Convention on Cybercrime
(ETS No. 185)

I. The Convention and its Explanatory Report have been adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at its 109th Session (8 November 2001) and the Convention has been opened for signature in Budapest, on 23 November 2001, on the issue of the International Conference on Cyber-crime.

II. The text of this explanatory report does not constitute an instrument providing an authoritative interpretation of the Convention, although it might be of such a nature as to facilitate the application of the provisions contained therein.
I. Introduction

1. The revolution in information technologies has changed society fundamentally and will probably continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Many tasks have become easier to handle. Where originally only some specific sectors of society had rationalised their working procedures with the help of information technology, now hardly any sector of society has remained unaffected. Information technology has in one way or the other pervaded almost every aspect of human activities.

2. A conspicuous feature of information technology is the impact it has had and will have on the evolution of telecommunications technology. Classical telephony, involving the transmission of human voice, has been overtaken by the exchange of vast amounts of data, comprising voice, text, music and static and moving pictures. This exchange no longer occurs only between human beings, but also between human beings and computers, and between computers themselves. Circuit-switched connections have been replaced by packet-switched networks. It is no longer relevant whether a direct connection can be established; it suffices that data is entered into a network with a destination address or made available for anyone who wants to access it.

3. The pervasive use of electronic mail and the accessing through the Internet of numerous web sites are examples of these developments. They have changed our society profoundly.

4. The ease of accessibility and searchability of information contained in computer systems, combined with the practically unlimited possibilities for its exchange and dissemination, regardless of geographical distances, has lead to an explosive growth in the amount of information available and the knowledge that can be drawn there from.

5. These developments have given rise to an unprecedented economic and social changes, but they also have a dark side: the emergence of new types of crime as well as the commission of traditional crimes by means of new technologies. Moreover, the consequences of criminal behaviour can be more far-reaching than before because they are not restricted by geographical limitations or national boundaries. The recent spread of detrimental computer viruses all over the world has provided proof of this reality. Technical measures to protect computer systems need to be implemented concomitantly with legal measures to prevent and deter criminal behaviour.

6. The new technologies challenge existing legal concepts. Information and communications flow more easily around the world. Borders are no longer boundaries to this flow. Criminals are increasingly located in places other than where their acts produce their effects. However, domestic laws are generally confined to a specific territory. Thus solutions to the problems posed must be addressed by international law, necessitating the adoption of adequate international legal instruments. The present Convention aims to meet this challenge, with due respect to human rights in the new Information Society.