A new draft of the controversial United Nations Cybercrime Treaty has only heightened concerns that the Treaty will criminalise expression and dissent, create extensive surveillance powers and facilitate cross-border repression.

The Cybercrime Treaty that is currently being negotiated by the United Nations has the potential to substantively reshape international criminal law and bolster cross-border police surveillance powers to access and share users’ data, implicating the human rights of billions of people worldwide.

Without a clearly defined scope and sufficient safeguards, the Treaty could endanger human rights – both online and offline – and repressive governments could abuse its provisions to criminalise online free speech. It could also threaten digital rights by legitimising intrusive investigations and unhindered law enforcement access to personal information.

In December 2019, the UN passed a resolution which established an open-ended Ad Hoc Committee tasked with developing a “comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes.”

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