Belarusian secret services are itching to control Internet?
11:33, — Politics
Belarus has applied for joining Council of Europe's Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.
After joining the Convention(text of the document), the Belarusian secret services will be able to get information about Internet users in other countries and spy in neighbouring regions without any bureaucratic delays. Though the Convention underlines impossibility to use the obtained information for political prosecution, Bytalyatski's case proves it is not an obstacle for the Belarusian security services.
An international cybercrime conference under the aegis of the Council of Europe opened yesterday in Strasbourg. The conference focuses of raising effectiveness of the Budapest Convention of 2001 and inviting new countries to join it. The Convention is signed by 45 and ratified by 30 states (most EU countries, the US, Canada, Japan).
According to Russian Kommersant newspaper, Belarus's action allegedly violates its arrangements with Russia, which tried to convince the international community to adopt a Russia-proposed treaty instead of the obsolete convention that “violates countries' sovereignty”. A source from the Russian government told Kommersant “Belarusians want to have a foot in both cmaps”.
Russia did not join the Convention. Moscow absolutely disagree with article 32 on “transborder access” allowing security services to have access to computer networks in other countries and carry out operations without informing the local authorities. In Moscow's opinion, it “infringes on sovereignty and threatens security”. Russia has been trying to persuade Europe to remove or amend this provision for a long time, but chose another way when this tactics turned out to be fruitless.
It recently began to criticize the document trying to convince the world community to adopt the International Code of Conduct for Information Security under aegis of the United Nations. A part of the document drafted by the Security Council and the Russian MFA focuses on fighting cybercrime. Authors of the code stress the documents deals with such terms as cyber-terrorism. The Budapest Convention does not contain such terms that allows Moscow to call it “outdated”.
Kommersant's sources from diplomatic and law-enforcement circles admit: they did not expect Minsk to make “such an unfriendly step”. “It looks like Belarusians want to have a foot in both camps,” a source from the Russian government is indignant.
Europeans were not less surprised after receiving an application from Minsk. “I don't understand why Alyaksandr Lukashenka needs it. In principle, Russian initiatives giving him far more control over national Internet segments would be closer to him,” a EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity. “It's interesting if Lukashenka knows the Budapest Convention is aimed not only at providing security, but also at protecting human rights and liberties on the Internet.”
Kommersant's diplomatic source from Minsk admits: “The European convention has plenty of drawbacks, but Russian ideas are still being discussed while we have to fight Internet fraud right now.” However, he adds Moscow has no reasons to worry: “Taking into account our relations with the EU, our application will hardly be considered soon.” But Russia is not happy with such a dim prospect. As far as Kommersant knows, Moscow wants to persuade Minsk to withdraw its application.
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