A 2013 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee surveyed various implications of cybercrimes on global economy, business and employments. According to this CSIS report, the first report of its kind, cybercrime costs worldwide business an estimated £265bn a year. This cost represents 0.4% to 1.4% of global GDP. It also shows that 508,000 jobs in the USA alone and other 150,000 jobs in the EU are potentially lost each year from cybercrimes and cyber espionage.
Though mostly the developed countries are the sufferers, the developing countries are also at great risks of cyber-attacks. Bangladesh is no different. Cyber security is one of the major challenges in Bangladesh at present as it is in the way of its digitalization. Till now there is no report or study to show how much damage or risks the economy of Bangladesh currently suffers due to cybercrimes. We already have seen the violent ramifications of cybercrimes in some recent terrorist attacks using updated information technology in our country. Also cyber violence against women becomes very common at present. The social impacts of these cyber violences are far reaching. Therefore, it is imperative now to think seriously the measures and mechanisms that Bangladesh can adopt to combat cybercrimes and to face the challenges of the rapid growth of information technology and internet.
Bangladesh has already enacted certain laws to deal with crimes relating to computer and information technology. To combat cybercrimes properly, it needs to have up-to-date laws and legal mechanisms to investigate and prosecute cyber criminals. The Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006, as amended in 2009 and 2013, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Act, 2001, the Pornography Control Act, 2012 are major substantive laws. The Government is also going to enact another law, namely 'the Digital Security Act' in the present year. The country has a 'National Cyber Security Strategy 2014' and 'National ICT Policy 2009'. To adjudicate cybercrimes, there is 'Cyber Tribunal' and 'Cyber Appellate Tribunal' set up in Dhaka. 'Bangladesh Computer Emergency Response Team' (bdCERT), 'Cybercrime Investigation Cell', 'IT Crime Forensic Lab' are set up by the Bangladesh police to fight cyber crimes.
These laws, mechanisms and institutions mainly deal with domestic crimes, and they lack in legal and instrumental capacity to deal with international cybercrimes affecting Bangladesh. It is very common in cyberspace that a person sitting outside Bangladesh can bring serious damages inside using internet and computers. So, coordination and cooperation with concerned authorities of other states is a must to identify, investigate and prosecute cybercriminals who are foreign nationals. It could not be done in the absence of necessary international legal and technical assistance. So, Bangladesh must be connected with regional and global legal efforts, i.e., treaties, conventions, interstate groups or task forces etc. according to the best national interest.
At the international level, the Convention on the Cybercrime, 2003 is the first and still the only convention, which seeks to address internet, and computer related crimes by securing international cooperation among member states and harmonising national laws on cybercrimes and improving investigative techniques. It was signed in Budapest, on 23 November 2001 and came into force on 1 July 2004. The Convention has an Additional Protocol which came into force on 1 March 2006. Though the Convention is an endeavor of the European Union and most of the ratifying countries are European, many non-European countries have ratified the same, including the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Africa, even Sri Lanka etc. India is yet to ratify the Convention. Bangladesh should ratify this Convention as well because the country can engage itself with the developing state of cyber laws in international level.
Ratifying this Convention will help the country to improve and harmonise the national legislations relating to cybercrimes with the international standard and will facilitate Bangladesh and its authorities to have easy access to international authorities to deal with cybercrimes effectively and confidently.
The Convention also addresses procedures for extradition of the accused. By ratifying the convention, Bangladesh can enforce extradition from any of the ratifying countries without bilateral extradition treaty.
The Convention also seeks to increase international cooperation by prescribing procedures for requesting assistance - format, content requirements and authorities from and to which the request may be sent, in relation to seizure, production, confiscation or preservation of electronic records as evidence, process for interception of electronic communications, standard for confidentiality and data protection. These matters are very crucial to combat cybercrimes. Therefore, it is imperative that Bangladesh seriously considers ratifying the Convention in order to combat cybercrimes effectively.
The writer is a Lecturer of Law, Jagannath University.