Facebook Privacy and Cyber Crime Discussed at First Day of G8 and G20 Youth Summit in Washington DC


The Justice Committee of the G8 and G20 Youth Summit, in Washington D.C., has started negotiations to write a communique to be presented to world leaders on a range of pressing international issues. 

The negotiations started with an overview of the topic which includes issues around cybercrime, balancing the rights of freedom of speech with security and a discussion of what best practice is in a rapidly changing world. 

Discussions centered around international cooperation and how governments can reconcile national policies with international cooperation. All the delegates were advocating the importance of oversights of governments when they seek to use cyber surveillance for the purposes of detecting serious crime. 

The U.K. strongly raised the issue of oversight on this matter to prevent governments abusing their power. They further raised the issue of secret court hearings in conjunction with this. 

The Japanese delegate suggested the committee's urge for the Budapest Convention should be applied in the communique and that countries should legislate on cyber crime themselves to avoid difficulties between legal systems. 

She added that these should be transparent and evidence-based. this was a string theme in the committee throughout the day and all the delegates were keen to adopt these overriding principles. 

There was then a discussion of whether Facebook changes people's perceptions of privacy and whether that should have any bearing on the way we think about privacy in terms of what people have published themselves. The delegates decided that this was irrelevant and did not alter a person's rights to privacy and protection from their government. 

The U.S. spoke about the difficulties of balancing the First Amendment freedom of speech rights in the U.S. constitution with preventing hate speech on the Internet. He said people were concerned about the power of governments when it seeks to regulate people's thoughts. 

Germany raised the fact that for them with the legacy of the holocaust there had to be a protection against hate speech, linking it with the later topic of freedom of the press. The delegates accepted that this was a sensitive issue and sought to balance limiting government intervention with keeping people safe. 

Germany and Japan both believed governments should have to publish how much wire tapping they do and the success rates to prevent its overuse. This was also a point of agreement. There was interesting debate around copyright and intellectual property and whether governments should intervene to delete plagiarised material from the Internet although this may not appear in the final communique. 

Japan and Italy then discussed balancing intellectual property rights with protecting freedom of speech. Everyone agreed that both must be protected but that freedom of expression is more important. 

America proposed, and it was agreed, that openness and transparency should feature strongly in the communique. Discussions then began on the specifics of how to balance fighting cybercrime and detection of serious crime with protecting people from abuse of power by governments. 

Canada said the debate should be around the broader issues of threats rather than specifics of national regulations but this was not agreed by the rest of the committee. Japan proposed the debate centre around the relationships between governments and individuals and to write a communique with guidelines but not to act as though it is legally binding. 

France added that with the Internet most of the issues crossed borders and that mention should be given to protecting victims of cybercrime. The topic has been divided into a) cyber crime and regulation and b) cyber surveillance and intelligence.

Discussion then moved on to how to frame the communique in terms of these issues. During this there was discussion of the appropriate forums for criminals to be tried and of expanding extradition treaties to include cyber crime. 

This was a main point of contention for the day. Canada suggested extradition was less necessary if states had similar cyber crime laws but it was eventually agreed to allow for extradition where a state was unwilling to prosecute the offender in their home country. 

Japan wanted the communique to include practices that are the least restrictive, evidence-based and transparent. The U.K. again raised the issue of oversight. Japan explained their recording and reporting system for keeping evidence on wire taps - judges grant warrants for wire taps. 

This was strongly accepted by the committee. The U.K. brought up whether there was any circumstance in which a warrant could be bypassed for national security. Canada was strongly against this and said warrants could be issued very quickly when needed. An exception was agreed for emergency situations. 

France raised the issue of how long data is kept for and the issue of time limited warrants was raised. Also a statue of limitations on prosecutions arising from this. This is to be included in the communique. 

The committee then moved on to determining the best way of phrasing these issues. As negotiations on day one drew to a close wording was being final used on the cybercrime issue after well informed and engaging debate. 

The justice committee is well informed and there are broad agreements on many of the overriding principles of protecting rights. The main points of contention seem to be how to reconcile national laws and views with greater International cooperation which mirrors the challenges of creating principles of international justice for world leaders. 

Discussions are next due to move on to the issue of freedom of the press. This is likely to centre around the rights and responsibilities of both individuals and the media and the problem of framing this in a global world.