Sri Lanka now e-ready to march against e-crime says AG



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Attorney General , Mohan Pieris, PC, delivering his keynote address at the international workshop on "Co-operation against Cybercrime in South Asia", held in Colombo recently. Council of Europe Economic Crime Division Head Alexander Seger looks on from the head table.


Sri Lanka is now e-ready to march against e-crime, Attorney General Mohan Pieris, PC told a recent international workshop on ``Co-operation against Cybercrime in South Asia", held in Colombo.


Throwing open before the audience, thoughts for consideration, during the deliberations , the AG said: "Given the ubiquitous nature of the internet and its ability to swiftly and effectively transcend national borders and sovereign territories, we today live and transact business in a borderless world".


Emphasizing the importance of mutual co-operation in fighting against cybercrime, he added: It’s axiomatic that criminal activity involving the use of computers has come to stay. As such this is an area where global co-operation and mutual assistance must be fostered and promoted. There is sensitivity internationally that practical efforts must be made to protect us from cybercrime and it in this backdrop that I find it quite opportune that this all important international workshop on co-operation against cybercrime in South Asia should take place in Sri Lanka".


The event was hosted jointly by Council of Europe and the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) in association with the Ministry of Justice.


The participants consisting of Government and law enforcement representatives from South Asian countries - Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, came together to enhance their capacity for cooperating against cybercrime. The workshop provided an ideal opportunity to assess cybercrime and IT related legislation of the countries concerned.


Pieris commended ICTA for its "contributions towards recent IT related legislation, particularly, the Electronic Transactions Act No. 19 of 2006 and the Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007. Whilst the Electronic Transactions Act provides an excellent framework legalizing e-commerce, e-business and e-governance with a unique evidence regime for the admissibility of electronic documents in courts, the Computer Crimes Act provides the safeguards against cybercrime. Both these legislations and consequential policy changes make Sri Lanka e-ready to march towards e-governance.


His address took the participants through a legal journey traversing many countries, including the Philippines, Russia, USA, UK as well as Hungary, which has now become famous for the Budapest Cybercrime Convention adopted in 2001.


"Given the ubiquitous nature of the internet and its ability to swiftly and effectively transcend national borders and sovereign territories, we today live and transact business in a borderless world," the AG said.


"It is axiomatic that criminal activity involving the use of computers has come to stay. As such this is an area where global co-operation and mutual assistance must be fostered and promoted. There is sensitivity internationally that practical efforts must be made to protect us from cybercrime and it in this backdrop that I find it quite opportune that this all important international workshop on co-operation against cybercrime in South Asia should take place in Sri Lanka".


He then went on to elaborate on a "story told and re-told many a time about the brief but destructive career of the infamous `Love Bug’ virus, which would illustrate the stupendous challenges cybercrimes pose to us today. The virus, which destroyed files and stole passwords, appeared in Hong Kong some years back and rapidly spread around the world.


Virus experts traced the "Love Bug" to the Philippines. Using information supplied by an Internet Service Provider, agents from Philippine’s National Bureau of Investigation and from the FBI identified individuals suspected of creating and disseminating the "Love Bug", but then they ran into problems with their investigations.


The Philippines had no cybercrime laws. As such, creating and disseminating a virus was not a crime known to the Philippines law. Consequently, the investigators had a difficult time convincing a magistrate to issue a warrant to search the suspect’s apartment. Obtaining the warrant took days, allowing the suspect ample time to destroy essential evidence.


Authorities finally executed the warrant and seized evidence, indicating that Onel de Guzman, a former computer science student, was the person responsible for creating and disseminating the "Love Bug". But, because Philippine law did not criminalise hacking or the distribution of viruses, officials struggled to prosecute Guzman.


They finally charged him with theft and credit card fraud, the usual penal code offences, but the charges were dismissed, as inapplicable and unfounded. What made it worse was that Guzman could not be extradited for prosecution in other countries – such as the United States - that have cybercrime laws.


``This would, in my view, illustrate the need to have legislation to fight cybercrime," Pieris said.


"In Sri Lanka this problem would not arise because adequate legislation is in place, as manifested in the Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007. What is unique is that our legislation provides adequate checks and balances, consistent with the Budapest Convention."


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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