January 5, 2021

3 April 2018: International Cybercrime Convention’s second protocol requires civil society’s input

Nearly 100 rights groups asked the Council of Europe to engage civil society in their negotiation of a second cybercrime convention protocol, which is aimed at setting the terms for data access by law enforcement to servers outside their geographic authority.

Re: Cybercrime negotiations and transparency

Dear Secretary-General Jagland,

The Council of Europe has a very strong and exemplary history of transparency. Your Committees are open to observers from civil society, an openness which is frequently availed of, to the benefit of the Council itself and the benefit of the human rights of people both in Europe and globally.

Convention 185 of the Council of Europe (the “Cybercrime Convention”) has also been remarkably successful in terms of signatories – having been ratified not only by a large number of CoE Member States, but also by large and small states from around the globe.

In the context of the need to build on these successes, the current negotiation of a second “additional protocol” to the Cybercrime Convention raises multiple challenges for transparency, participation, inclusion and accountability. This is firstly due to the far broader geographic range of the countries likely to be impacted by the final agreement and, secondly, by the current arrangements for access to documents and consultation. Accountability, transparency, participation, and inclusion represent vital embodiments of the Council of Europe’s work.

As an example of the important documents that have not been released, we are concerned that we, the public, do not have access to Document T-CY(2017)19, the initial inventory of provisions to be prepared. All documents should be published, by default, and this should be insisted upon by the Council of Europe, to uphold its exemplary tradition of transparency and inclusion. Exceptions should be individually justified and internally reviewed.

We welcome the intention of the Council of Europe, as described in Document T-CY(2017)20 for “close interaction with civil society”. We do not see the need, however, to restrict this to the Octopus Conferences. Transparency and opportunities for input are needed continuously throughout the process. This ensures that civil society can listen to Member States, and provide targeted advice to the specific discussions taking place. Our opinions can build upon the richness of the discussion among States and experts, a discussion that civil society will miss if we are not invited to participate throughout the process. States and civil society need to fully engage with each other to achieve meaningful and mutually beneficial transparency and accountability in governance. This cannot exist without civil society participation from the initial steps of the process.

As a result, we call upon the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Committee (T-CY) to develop a detailed plan for online debriefing sessions after each drafting meeting, both plenary and drafting, and to invite civil society as experts in the meetings, as is customary in all other Council of Europe Committee sessions. With a diligent approach to making all possible documents public and proactively engaging with global civil society, the Council of Europe can both build on its exemplary approach to transparency and ensure that the outcome of this process is of the highest quality and achieves the widest possible support.

With best regards,

European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Access Now
Apertura Radical
Asociación para una ciudadanía participativa (ACI-Participa)
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
Asuntos del Sur
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
Chaos Computer Club (CCC)
Coding Rights
Columbia Global Freedom of Expession
Cooperativa Sulá Batsú R.L.
Digital Rights Watch
East European Development Institute
Electronic Frontiers Australia
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Enjambre Digital
Eticas Foundation
Foundation for Media Alternatives
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)
Frënn vun der Ënn (FVDE)
Fundación Acceso
Fundación Datos Protegidos
Fundacion Huaira
Fundación Vía Libre
Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
Human Rights Online
International Modern Media Institute (IMMI)
Internet Society, Philippines Chapter
IP Justice
IT-Political Association of Denmark (IT-Pol Denmark)
La Quadrature du Net (LQDN)
Open Net Korea
Panoptykon Foundation
Progetto Winston Smith
Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Interent Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)
SHARE Foundation
SonTusDatos (Artículo 12, A.C.)
South East European Media Organization (SEEMO)
Sursiendo, Comunicación y Cultura Digital
Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D)
The Gambia YMCAs Computer Training Centre and Digital Studio
Unwanted Witness
Usuarios Digitales
7amleh – Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
Albanian Media Institute
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC)
Bytes for All (B4A)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
Center for Independent Journalism – Romania
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
Child Rights International Network (CRIN)
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Derechos Digitales
Digital Rights Foundation
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Free Media Movement
Fundación Karisma
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
International Press Centre (IPC)
Maharat Foundation
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Watch
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión – OLA
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
Pakistan Press Foundation
Privacy International
Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
Trinidad & Tobago Publishers & Broadcasters Association
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State