Concerted strategies needed to fight cybercrimes:
AG lauds Sri Lankan IT laws
"The fight against cybercrimes calls for concerted strategies" said
Attorney General Mohan Pieris, President's Counsel in his keynote
address at the international workshop on Co-operation against Cybercrime
in South Asia, held in Colombo recently.
The event was hosted jointly by the Council of Europe and the ICT
Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) in association with the Ministry of Justice.
The participants consisting of government and law enforcement
representatives from South Asian countries - Bangladesh, India,
Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, came together to enhance their
capacity for cooperating against cybercrime.
The workshop provided an opportunity to assess cybercrime and IT
related legislation of the countries concerned.
The AG commended ICTA for its "contributions towards recent IT
related legislation, particularly, the Electronic Transactions Act No.
19 of 2006 and the Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007.
Whilst the Electronic Transactions Act provides an excellent
framework legalising e-commerce, e-business and e-governance with a
unique evidence regime for the admissibility of electronic documents in
courts, the Computer Crimes Act provides the safeguards against
cybercrime. Both these legislation and consequential policy changes make
Sri Lanka e-ready to march towards e-governance".
The AG's address took participants through a legal journey traversing
many countries, including the Philippines, Russia, USA, UK as well as
Hungary, which has now become famous for the Budapest Cybercrime
Convention adopted in 2001.
The AG said, "Given the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and its
ability to swiftly and effectively transcend national borders and
sovereign territories, we today live and transact business in a
Emphasising the importance of mutual co-operation in fighting against
cybercrime, the AG said, "It is axiomatic that criminal activity
involving the use of computers has come to stay.
As such this is an area where global co-operation and mutual
assistance must be fostered and promoted.
There is sensitivity internationally that practical efforts must be
made to protect us from cybercrime and it is in this backdrop that I
find it quite opportune that this all important international workshop
on co-operation against cybercrime in South Asia should take place in
He elaborated on a "story told and re-told many a time about the
brief but destructive career of the infamous 'Love Bug' virus, which
would illustrate the stupendous challenges cybercrimes pose to us today.
The virus, which destroyed files and stole passwords, appeared in Hong
Kong some years back and rapidly spread around the world.
Virus experts traced the 'Love Bug' to the Philippines.
Using information supplied by an Internet Service Provider, agents
from Philippine's National Bureau of Investigation and from the FBI
identified individuals suspected of creating and disseminating the 'Love
Bug', but then they ran into problems with their investigations.
The Philippines had no cybercrime laws. As such, creating and
disseminating a virus was not a crime known to the Philippines law.
Consequently, the investigators had a difficult time convincing a
magistrate to issue a warrant to search the suspect's apartment.
Obtaining the warrant took days, allowing the suspect ample time to
destroy essential evidence.
Authorities finally executed the warrant and seized evidence,
indicating that Onel de Guzman, a former computer science student, was
the person responsible for creating and disseminating the 'Love Bug'.
But, because Philippine law did not criminalise hacking or the
distribution of viruses, officials struggled to prosecute Guzman.