A coalition of industry groups has urged the Senate to ratify the Convention on Cybercrime and help prevent internet abuse.

The convention, adopted through the Council of Europe and signed by the U.S. in 2001, requires global cooperation in cybercrime prosecution.

"The Convention on Cybercrime is the first and only international, multilateral treaty to specifically address the need for cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of computer network crimes," said the letter, written to the U.S. Senate.

The American Bankers Association (ABA), the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) and Verisign are amongst the groups that undersigned the letter believing ratification of the convention would create "an important tool in the global fight against those who seek to disrupt computer networks, misuse private or sensitive information, or commit traditional crimes utilizing internet-enabled technologies."

The letter was addressed to senators Richard Lugar and Joseph Biden, who in 2004 received a similar letter from influential lobbyist group the Electronic Information Privacy Center (Epic) objecting to ratification of the convention on the grounds it "threatens core legal protections [of privacy]." The investigative powers required to implement to convention, Epic argued, would require government surveillance and forensic rights on a level that could threaten individual rights.

So far, eight of the 42 countries that signed the treaty have completed the ratification process.

Earlier this week, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced broad legislation designed to increase protection of consumers' private data.

www.epic.org