The blueprint for a global code on cybercrime was agreed in Strasbourg, France on Friday, paving the way for international rules governing online copyright infringement, fraud, child pornography and hacking.
The 41 members of the Council of Europe, plus the US, Canada and Japan signed on to a draft convention on cybercrime that will be rubber-stamped at ministerial level in September.
"Once adopted, the convention will be the first international treaty on criminal offences committed through the use of internet and other computer networks," the CoE said in a statement.
The convention contains a range of procedural powers, including searching and intercepting computer systems. Its main objective is to pursue 'a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation', the CoE said.
The draft treaty itself will only be available to the public in a week's time, the CoE said.
But the decision to sign the draft has been criticised by representatives of Europe's ISP community.
"We hope it has changed significantly from the last version of the text we saw," said Jo McNamee, director general of the trade association EuroISPA.
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