Cameron and Obama commit to fight against cyber crime

By Parliamentary reporter
26 May 2011 View Comments
President Barack Obama looking pensive

President Barack Obama signalled agreement with Britain on closer co-operation in cyber space in his historic address to parliament.

He identified a role for Nato "that will give us the capabilities needed to meet new threats – like terrorism and piracy, cyber attacks and ballistic missiles".

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The talks between Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron resulted in agreement on six areas where the UK and the US will strengthen their co-operation in coming months, including "the development of cyberspace".

A "joint fact sheet", or communique, stated that Britain has joined the US and 30 other states in signing up to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, described as "the world's foremost treaty to combat cybercrime internationally" and that the US will take part in a London International Cyber Conference in November.

The convention sets standards for national laws dealing with online fraud and abuse and increases co-operation between nations.

The leaders "reaffirmed their close bilateral co-operation, and charted important new steps forward" on cyberspace issues, particularly cyber security.

They appeared to rule out any attempt to bring Twitter to heel in the super-injunction row, making clear "their shared vision for cyberspace which places fundamental freedoms of speech and association, individual privacy, and the free flow of information at its heart".

But they urged "that the same kinds of ‘rules of the road' that help maintain peace, security, and respect for individual rights internationally must apply equally in cyberspace".

The document claimed "the relationship on cybersecurity issues remains deeper than ever" and "noted new transatlantic initiatives to provide joint funding and review of cyber security research and development (R&D) projects".

Obama displayed a blinkered American view of the development of IT in his speech, claiming "the dawn of the Information Age" arose "from the office parks of Silicon Valley", ignoring parts played by Europeans like Zuse , Babbage, Goedel, Turing, and Berners-Lee.

Challenged earlier at a joint Press Conference, he said he will "respect" the British legal system in its handling of Gary McKinnon, the suspected computer hacker facing deportation to America.

A report from the influential Lords European Affairs Committee earlier called for greater international co-operation on cyber security; criticised the UK for a near 10-year delay signing up to the Budapest Convention and demanded the government rethink its opposition to additional funds for Europol to run a proposed new European Cybercrime Centre.

Peers remarked that during their inquiry a series of cyber crime attacks closed down the EU carbon trading scheme for months following the loss of €30m (£26m) in carbon allowances in the Czech Republic.

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