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Legal Measures

Cyber criminals are an ever present menace in every country connected to the Internet. Organized crime has been on the rise because the Internet has proved a low risk, lucrative business.  This is due to the fact that loopholes in national and regional legislation still remain, making it difficult to effectively track down criminals.  The main problem is the lack of international harmonization regarding cybercrime legislation.  Investigation and prosecution are difficult if the categorization of crimes differs from country to country.  Some efforts to address this challenge have been undertaken, and although very valuable, they are still insufficient. The Internet is an international communication tool and consequently, any solution to secure it must be sought at the global level.


ITU Cybercrime Legislation Resources

With its cybercrime legislation resources and material, the ITU is working to assist countries in understanding the legal aspects of cybersecurity in order to move towards harmonizing legal frameworks. Through these cybercrime legislation resources, ITU is addressing the first of the seven strategic goals of the GCA, which calls for the elaboration of strategies for the development of cybercrime legislation that is globally applicable and interoperable with existing national and regional legislative measures. This activity also addresses the ITU-D Study Group Q22/1 approach for organizing national cybersecurity efforts, highlighting that establishing the appropriate legal infrastructures is an integral component of a national cybersecurity strategy.


The adoption by all countries of appropriate legislation against the misuse of ICTs for criminal or other purposes, including activities intended to affect the integrity of national critical information infrastructures, is central to achieving global cybersecurity. Since threats can originate anywhere around the globe, the challenges are inherently international in scope and require international cooperation, investigative assistance, and common substantive and procedural provisions. Thus, it is important that countries harmonize their legal frameworks to combat cybercrime and facilitate international cooperation. The ITU cybercrime legislation resources currently consist of two main deliverables, the ITU publication titled Understanding Cybercrime: A Guide for Developing Countries and the ITU Toolkit for Cybercrime Legislation


ITU Publication on Understanding Cybercrime: A Guide for Developing Countries[1]


The ITU publication Understanding Cybercrime: A Guide for Developing Countries aims to help developing countries better understand the national and international implications of growing cyber-threats, assess the requirements of existing national regional and international instruments, and assist countries in establishing a sound legal foundation.

The Guide provides a comprehensive overview of the most relevant topics linked to the legal aspects of cybercrime. In its approach, the Guide focuses on the demands of developing countries. Due to the transnational dimension of cybercrime, the legal instruments are the same for developing and developed countries. However, the references used were selected for the benefit of developing countries. The Guide provides a broad selection of resources for a more in depth study of the different topics. Whenever possible, publicly available sources were used, including many free-of-charge editions of online law journals. 

The Guide contains six main chapters. After an Introduction (Chapter 1), the Guide provides an overview of the phenomena of cybercrime (Chapter 2). This includes descriptions of how crimes are committed and explanations of the most widespread cybercrime offences such as hacking, identity theft and denial-of-service attacks. The Guide also provides an overview of the challenges as they relate to the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime (Chapters 3 and 4). After a summary of some of the activities undertaken by international and regional organizations in the fight against cybercrime (Chapter 5), the Guide continues with an analysis of different legal approaches with regard to substantive criminal law, procedural law, international cooperation and the responsibility of Internet Service Providers (Chapter 6), including examples of international approaches as well as good-practice examples from national solutions.


[1] The ITU publication Understanding Cybercrime: A Guide for Developing Countries, 2009, is available at:


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Updated : 2012-02-07