Budapest Convention and Demilitarising the Cyberspace

In the present times, cyberspace has not only become central to various sectors from social, economic, political to geo-strategic and defence, but also vital to a nation’s existence. However the flip side is that illegal, criminal and anti-national elements have also become rampant. Further, issues relating to the militarization of cyber space have emerged. The intention of many nations has been to gain strategic advantage through the militarization of cyberspace. The use of Stuxnet malware against Iran is a case in point.

  • This leads us to the crucial issue of the need for a cyber treaty that demilitarises cyberspace. In this regard it would be important to take into account the lacunae of the present Convention on Cybercrime, also called as the Budapest Convention.
  • Though the Budapest Convention establishes procedural laws and powers for effective investigations, countries can refuse to cooperate even after ratifying the treaty.
  • They may also refuse assistance if the act is deemed to be a political offence or a non-offence within the country.
  • Different conceptions of human rights and privacy concerns complicate the matters further. Thus it remains more of a symbolic legislation.

It is in this context that the need for a new treaty to prevent militarization of cyberspace arises. Improved international governance of the internet as well as issues of content regulation and freedom of speech need to be addressed by the new treaty. Since the present Budapest Convention cannot be modified by the non-EU members it would be in the best interests of everyone that all countries get together to address the issues by creating a new international treaty that is not limited in its scope and enforcement, like the present Budapest Convention.

Need of Cyber treaty to demilitarise cyberspace

The existing international treaty called the Budapest Convention, it focuses only on cybercrime.

  • Cyberspace has not only become central to various sectors from social, economic, political to geo-strategic and defence, but also vital to a nation’s existence. However the flip side is that illegal, criminal and anti-national elements have also become rampant.
  • There may be cyber attacks on critical information infrastructures such as banking, power distribution, air traffic control, as well as espionage, so the question is: is this a manifestation of military conflict?
  • In the United States, the cyber security is under the overall control of the national security advisor, not under the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Use of the Stuxnet malware against Iran was a case of a nation-state using cyber weapons for destructive use.

So, there is a need of a cyber treaty that demilitarises cyberspace and emphasises law enforcement cooperation will promote a safe internet. Improved international governance of the internet is an integral part of this cooperation.

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