How to acknowledge cyber evidence: Reform, new parallel law

7 Dec 2016 10:00h - 11:30h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

Dr Walid  AL-Saqaf, from the Internet Society, an Internet rights advocate and a researcher, was the moderator for this session.

The workshop how to acknowledge cyber evidence: reform or new parallel laws covered the following topics:

  • How to address and acknowledge cyber evidence.
  • Whether modernisation and/or the amendment of classical criminal procedure and evidence law are good enough to manage human rights and criminal activities in the internet domain.
  • Whether law enforcement activities are going to require separate legal and administrative frameworks.
  • A short and long term governance model for the internet legislature and internet eco-system

He then introduced Mr Sumon Ahmed Sabir who is the chief strategy officer of fibre@Home limited and also the policy SIG co-chair of ApNIC. He started his presentation by explaining that he has a technical background, and has little experience with law. He mentioned that the Internet became very popular in the 1990’s back then and a lot of crimes happened online such as people asking for ransoms online. He also stated that people should be prosecuted the same way for a crime, whether it is committed online or offline. Sabir said that more focus should be put on the legal system with the handling of cyber evidence rather than developing new cyber laws, creating new laws may create new problems. He said that the judiciary must be aware of how crimes are being committed. For example, he mentioned how most countries only recognise contracts signed on paper, that there is no need for a new law for digital signatures, but only the acknowledgement of digital signatures. He concluded by saying that he supports the notion that there is a need for the acknowledgement of cyber evidence. He said that evidence itself is important, not the way you collect it. A crime is a crime.

Mr Andrew To’imoana from the government of Tonga mentioned that their government recognises cyberlaw, and it has engaged in a lot of activities on improving the computer law after the fibre optic landing project in Tonga. He said that there are working groups set up to work on cyber-security, cyber-crimes and cyber-safety. He also added that Tonga is a member of the Budapest Convention, which is the first international treaty seeking to address the Internet and computer crime by harmonising national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations. He said that one of the most important issues is the way of capturing evidence, that there are certain ways of carrying this out that will stand up in courts of law. He also mentioned that training is being carried out for prosecutors, to understand cyber evidence and how to apply it in court proceedings. To’imoane said one important thing to notice is that in cybercrime you do not need to be a citizen in the residing country, but the crime could be carried out anywhere, so there are different aspects in regards to the law that need to be addressed.  One aspect is how to preserve data, from those committing a crime. How evidence can be requested from other countries and be recognised.

Mr Babu Ram Aryal, president of Nepal ISOC chapter and a cyber law practicing lawyer explained his stand on this topic, that cybercrime is not a different crime but an extension of traditional crime. He said that law made specifically for technology will not work, that technology keeps changing. The challenges of keeping it updated will be difficult and the law should reflect the crime, and not how the crime was committed. He said he is not totally against cyber laws, however considerable precautions will be needed.

The workshop was concluded by Al-Saqaf saying that it was clear that everyone agrees that there is a need for cyber evidence acknowledgment, and that opinions vary on cyber laws, with some saying they are needed, others saying they are not, and others saying that if they are necessary, a good amount of precaution is needed to make them effective.

by Mamothokoane Tlali, Internet Society Lesotho