28 July 2021 - RIA Novosti

The Russian Federation is the first in the world to submit to the UN a draft Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes. Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Pyotr Gorodov told in an interview with RIA Novosti about the innovations that Russia offers. According to him, the document, in particular, proposes to expand the list of cybercrimes, including the rehabilitation of Nazism, distribution of counterfeit medicines and arms trafficking.

RIA Novosti: Pyotr, Russia has just officially submitted to the United Nations ad hoc committee a draft convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) for criminal purposes. What are its features?

Mr Pyotr Gorodov: We see this convention as a universal mechanism for combatting crimes in the sphere of ICTs usage. It was developed on behalf of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Igor Krasnov by an interdepartmental group of leading experts of the country under the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia aegis with the active participation of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Thus, the project reflects 23 cybercrimes, including unauthorised access to personal information, illicit distribution of counterfeit medicines and medical products, terrorism and extremism-related offences, rehabilitation of Nazism, distribution of narcotic drugs, arms trafficking, involvement of minors in the commission of unlawful acts and many others – all the most relevant offences in the world of cybercrime.

Much attention is also paid to procedure aspects. The draft document contains elements of international cooperation that have proven their effectiveness, as well as urgent interaction mechanisms that are so necessary now. That could increase significantly the speed and efficiency of law enforcement agencies work in investigating ICT-related crimes that have a cross-border nature and require an instant response.

At the same time, the issues of personal data protection, respect for state sovereignty and human rights have been balanced. A set of measures has been implemented to protect witnesses and to use actively modern technologies, including video and phone conference systems, for conducting interrogations and other procedural actions.

I also consider an important project element the possibility of providing technical assistance to developing countries. They are most vulnerable to cybercriminal actions and require serious support. The future convention can be a significant catalyst for the formation of a strong legislative framework. It is also empowered to increase the technical potential of the UN member states in protecting people, societies and businesses.

RIA Novosti: And why exactly is the UN universal convention on fighting information crime needed? Do the states lack existing tools?

Mr Pyotr Gorodov: As the practice of international cooperation and huge damage caused by ICT crimes show – yes, they do lack enough tools. Many regional solutions – the same Budapest Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe – were developed 20 years ago, when humanity did not yet know such modern problems as darknet, phishing, ransomware, DDoS attacks, spam and many others. It was the Prosecutor General of Russia who insisted that our draft convention would take into account these current challenges of our time.

Over these two decades, the world has changed qualitatively. The introduction and spread of new technologies that criminals have begun to adopt has accelerated.

At the same time, the mechanisms of bilateral cooperation are also not a panacea for the problem of cybercrime. States may refuse to provide the necessary information, referring to the peculiarities of national legislation in terms of cross-border data exchange, or unreasonably delay their response.

It also happens that information exchange is impossible for quite specific technical reasons. For example, in the case of deadlines set by national legislation for the storage of computer information.