Leading judge calls for new measures to combat cybercrime

  • 18 May 2000

A leading British judge has called for a sweeping range of measures to combat cybercrime, including the recognition of computer hacking as a crime in international law and a new multilateral treaty under which cybercriminals could be prosecuted for offences committed anywhere in the world.

Speaking at the inaugural ICC Commercial Crime Services Annual Lecture, Judge Alan Wilkie QC, Law Commissioner for England and Wales, said cyberspace was a new form of communication whose legal problems could not be accommodated within traditional structures.

An audience of lawyers, law enforcement officials and bankers, including Dr Ross Cranston, HM Solicitor General, and Rosalind Wright, Head of the Serious Fraud Office, listened as Judge Wilkie highlighted the need for greater international cooperation to bring cybercriminals to justice.

“The current problems of commercial cybercrime affect everyone and solving them will not come about by applying the law as it stands on a day by day basis,” Judge Wilkie said. The judge said it was essential to secure jurisdiction over cybercriminals in as many countries as possible, and drew attention to a three-stage approach to meeting this challenge put forward by the New Zealand law Commission last year involving:

“The first two stages of this approach have strong echoes in what is already being planned in the EU and Council of Europe,” Judge Wilkie said, adding that in his view it was these proposals that offered the best prospect for a credible international response to the cybercrime problem.

The annual lecture was chaired by Lord Justice Brooke, and was sponsored by Commercial Crime Services (CCS), a division of the International Chamber of Commerce, in association with The Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London.

Commenting on the evening, Pottengal Mukundan, CCS Director said: “We are extremely grateful to Judge Wilkie for launching our annual lecture with such a well researched speech on modern commercial crime.

“The success of e-commerce in the modern world depends on having as secure an environment as possible, and laws that respond to the complexities of 21st century trading methods are essential to this end. Tonight has provided everyone concerned with this problem something to think about and a valuable insight into some of the legal remedies that may soon come to our rescue”.