Civil Liberties and Security in Cyberspace

Policy Briefs

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CISAC, page(s): 31

August, 2000

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Societies are becoming more dependent on computer networks and therefore more vulnerable to cyber crime and terrorism. Measures to protect information systems are receiving increasing attention as the threat of attack grows and the nature of that threat is better understood. The primary purpose of this article is to determine what legal standards should govern the use of such measures and what nontechnical constraints are likely to be placed, or should be placed, on them. The article demonstrates that policing of computer networks poses a real threat to privacy, protection against self-incrimination and unwarranted searches and seizures, and the right to due process of law. Technological realities and the differences in national values and rules concerning the intrusiveness of law enforcement, protection of citizen's rights, and international cooperation can complicate the observance of these rights and allow misuse of systems set up for preventing, tracking, or punishing cyber crime. Another purpose of this article is to show that while technologies of crime and punishment are undergoing a rapid and profound evolution, the legal and normative principles discussed here will endure, because they are independent of specific technology. As such, they can provide a framework for building a global infrastructure and policy environment that can balance the needs for crime-free business, government, and personal communications, with the protection of property, privacy, and civil liberties. The article concludes that ensuring civil liberties in the course of legal and technological cooperation against cyber attacks is essential.

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