Microsoft says UN cybercrime treaty could be abused by authoritarian states

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Microsoft is warning that the United Nations’ cybercrime treaty could be abused by authoritarian states.

Microsoft published a LinkedIn post detailing its concerns about the treaty draft, which it says is too broad and could be used to criminalize online content, introduce new surveillance powers, and expand cross-border government access to personal data.

According to Microsoft, “The risk is that the treaty will not be a tool for prosecuting criminals but rather a weapon that allows for intrusive data access and surveillance instruments. The result could be an international agreement granting authoritarian states the power to suppress dissent under the guise of fighting cybercrime.”

The latest versions of the treaty have done little to assuage those concerns. The current version includes a definition of cybercrime that goes beyond traditional computer hacking and has provisions that authoritarian states could abuse.

Microsoft is calling on UN members to limit the scope of the treaty and incorporate human rights safeguards. It is also urging the group to consider criminalizing only “core cybercrime offences” like illegal hacking.

The UN committee negotiating the treaty is set to wrap up its current negotiation session and will conclude negotiations at the next session in early 2024.

The sources for this piece include an article in Axios.

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