Feedback on New Zealand’s written submission to the 2nd session of the UN cybercrime treaty negotiations
We asked for your views on New Zealand’s written submission to the 2nd negotiating session of the UN process to develop a new cybercrime treaty. In the submission, we outlined the elements New Zealand wanted to see in the eventual treaty, regarding the chapters on criminalisation, law enforcement and procedure, and general provisions. We asked you to provide your feedback on our proposed approach and what you thought should be front of mind for our negotiating team during the 2nd session.
There was broad support for taking a narrow approach to criminalisation in the treaty, to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and prevent duplication with existing international legal instruments. You agreed that we needed a focused set of provisions which outline core cyber-dependant crimes, as well as a limited set of cyber-enabled crimes, where the use of ICTs has significantly increased the impact of the crime. You advised us to steer clear of offences that had the potential to be misinterpreted and misused to suppress freedom of expression and other basic human rights.
Some of you advocated for the inclusion of criminal intent as a requirement for some offences e.g., illegal access, to protect ethical hackers and other legitimate cyber security research activities.
You emphasised that the procedural powers granted in the treaty to investigate and prosecute cybercrime must be narrowly tailored to meet specific public safety needs in an appropriate and proportionate manner. You stressed that these law enforcement provisions must be subject to comprehensive human rights safeguards, particularly the right for peoples’ privacy not to be subject to arbitrary or unlawful interference, and that there should be guarantees around the protection of personal data.
Some of you appealed to us to ensure we are representing a Māori world view in international discussions, to understand the implications of cybercrime for protecting Aotearoa’s precious cultural IP and data sovereignty, and to foster close communication between treaty partners on this journey.
Our team used your feedback to inform our national negotiating position ahead of the 2nd session commencing 30 May. Your input was crucial for our team to prioritise where we should focus our efforts to ensure maximum value in pursuing New Zealand’s interests. We made interventions to support extensive privacy considerations and adherence to the principle of proportionality in law enforcement operations. In line with our advocacy for a narrowly focused convention, we also voiced our objection to the inclusion of offences with vague and problematic definitions, such as those proposed relating to terrorism, speech related offences, and fake news.
Additionally, hearing from the private sector and civil society was essential for engaging with the multi-stakeholder community involved in the negotiations and understanding what their priorities are.
We appreciate you offering your time and expertise on this matter. Hearing what is important for New Zealanders reinforced our objective to advocate for an effective treaty that strikes an appropriate balance between strengthening international cooperation to combat cybercrime and ensuring the protection of fundamental human rights.