Acknowledging a need to confront computer crime more forcefully, the United States and seven other countries pledged Wednesday to search for and prosecute high-tech criminals from one another’s countries even when extradition laws do not apply.
A communique signed by Attorney General Janet Reno and the justice and interior ministers of Russia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Canada, France and Italy promises to coordinate efforts to combat industrial espionage, money laundering, child pornography and other crimes in cyberspace.
They also agreed to develop crime-fighting technologies such as video links to obtain and share testimony from witnesses.
The ministers offered few details about tactics or budgets. But the fact that the first meeting ever held among the senior law enforcement officials of the eight countries was devoted to computer crime underscored the growing concerns that world leaders share about security in cyberspace.
“We’re using 19th-century tools to face a 21st-century problem,” said Jack Straw, the British home secretary. “One person can stay in the same place and commit crimes in several countries without leaving his armchair.”
Reno said, “Somebody can sit in his room in Washington, D.C., and steal from a bank in another country or attack a computer of some private industry and disrupt the data available to that company, data that may be critical to that company.”