In recent decades, the digital world has undergone rapid development. Information and communication technologies simplify everyday actions and tasks. However, technological progress is also accompanied by increasing crime in the context of digital means, with the result that national regulations were resp. are partly no longer sufficient.

In order to remedy this situation, the Council of Europe drafted the Cybercrime Convention. It came into force on 1st of July in 2004, more than 60 countries are currently parties to the Convention, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein.

The Cybercrime Convention is the first international convention providing a legal framework in order to combat crimes committed via internet or other computer networks.

The Convention contains substantial criminal offences to be transposed into national law by the contracting parties, i.e. to harmonize. It should be mentioned that inter alia computer fraud, data theft, hacking and copyright infringements are to be punished.

In order to be able to prosecute various violations, the Convention includes special powers of the competent authorities as well, e.g. regulations concerning questions of collecting and preserving evidence of electronic data; like the rapid search and seizure of stored computer data or the immediate backup of stored computer data.

International cooperation in criminal matters is also regulated by the Convention, in particular with the aim of making extradition and mutual legal assistance between the contracting parties quick and efficient.

The Cybercrime Convention is one of the most important international criminal law conventions, especially due to its innovative character linked to the special features of the digital world. It is structured in the manner of a framework convention, thus allowing further developments in the future.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.