The United States has ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, joining 15 other ratified countries and 27 other signed but unratified countries, and President Bush has signed into law the U.S. SAFE WEB Act. The treaty has two major impacts, one on enhancing cooperation on computer and Internet-related crimes and the other relating to the international sharing of electronic evidence amongst member states. In the U.S., the federal government already has several laws that criminalize many computer and Internet abuses and provide for the government to obtain electronic evidence. Thus, Attorney General Gonzales has affirmed that no new legislation is needed to meet the treaty obligations for substantive laws or investigative powers. The U.S. SAFE WEB Act ("Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers across Borders Act of 2005") authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to cooperate with foreign governments in pursuing Internet scammers and spammers, including tracking banking transactions and freezing foreign assets. The new impact on the U.S. is that foreign governments that are signatories to this treaty shall have the right to compel the U.S. government to gather electronic evidence for the foreign governments. The U.S. SAFE WEB Act also provides protection from liability for voluntary disclosures of activity involving fraud or deception to the FTC, so that businesses may provide information on investigations and suspicious activity without incurring liability. The true impact on U.S. information technology systems may not be known for some time, but businesses that maintain or store data that might be subject to a foreign investigation should be ready to deal with more requests for data collection and disclosure.
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