A panel of the US Senate has approved the world's first treaty targeting cyber crime.
Industry groups have lobbied the Senates' Foreign Relations Committee to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Cyber crime, which requires nations to implement laws against hacking, infringements of copyrights, computer-facilitated fraud and other Internet-based crimes.
The Convention is the first and only international treaty to address the need for co-operation in investigating troublesome computer network-based crimes, including identity theft, fraud and hacking. It also includes a section prohibiting any hard or software that is designed for the purposes of cyber crimes including data interference and interception being made available on the Internet.
A letter sent to the Committee by groups including the Business Software Alliance and the Cyber Security Industry Alliance read: "We believe ratification of the Convention will increase international co-operation in investigations and prosecutions of criminals…and strengthen the confidence of the American people in the security and safety of online interactions."
Thus far, eight of the 42 countries that have signed up to the treaty have ratified it too. If the US follows suit, it will be of huge symbolic importance. Most of its laws already cover much of what the treaty incorporates, but President Bush has backed ratification.