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International review of criminal policy - Nos. 43 and 44/Regional action

B. Regional action

8. Examination of these questions has already occurred to some degree at the international and regional levels. In particular, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe have produced guidelines for policy makers and legislators.

9. In 1983, OECD undertook a study of the possibility of an international application and harmonization of criminal laws to address the problem of computer crime or abuse. In 1986, it published Computer-Related Crime: Analysis of Legal Policy, a report that surveyed the existing laws and proposals for reform in a number of Member States and recommended a minimum list of abuses that countries should consider prohibiting and penalizing by criminal laws, for example, computer fraud and forgery, the alteration of computer programs and data and the copyright and interception of the communications or other functions of a computer or telecommunication system. A majority of members of the Committee on Information, Computer and Communications Policy also recommended that criminal protections should be developed for other types of abuse, including the theft of trade secrets and unauthorized access to, or use of, computer systems.

10. Following the completion of the OECD report, the Council of Europe initiated its own study of this issue with a view to developing guidelines to assist legislators in determining what conduct should be prohibited by the criminal law and how this should be achieved, having regard for the conflict of interest between civil liberties and the need for protection. The minimum list of OECD was expanded considerably by adding other types of abuses that were recommended as deserving of the application of the criminal law. The Select Committee of Experts on Computer-Related Crime of the Committee on Crime Problems examining these questions also addresses other areas, such as privacy protection, victims, prevention, procedural issues such as the international search and seizure of data banks, and international cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of computer crime. Recommendation R(89)9 of the Council ofEurope on computer-related crime, which contains guidelines for national legislatures, was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 13 September 1989.

11. In 1992, OECD developed a set of guidelines for the security of information systems, which is intended to provide a foundation on which States and the private sector may construct a framework for the security of information systems. In that same year, the Council of Europe began a study that will concentrate on procedural and international cooperation issues related to computer crime and information technology.

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