The Commonwealth has urged greater international collaboration to combat the threat posed by criminals exploiting the internet.
At a Commonwealth cybersecurity workshop in Namibia, Deputy Secretary-General Josephine Ojiambo urged governments and parliaments to improve the legislative response to internet-based crimes.
“Cybercrime is a scourge that is increasingly affecting many areas of economic and social life, to very detrimental effect. It destroys the many positive contributions and undermines the trust of citizens,” she said.
“By working together to devise tough laws and to implement robust policies the Commonwealth can provide global leadership for an effective and coordinated response to tackle cybercriminals and cybercrime."
The Commonwealth Secretariat and Parliament of Namibia oversaw the workshop for parliamentarians, ministers and national cybersecurity agencies from the Commonwealth's 18 African member countries. It was held between 28 November and 1 December 2016.
It is one of a series of three regional workshops under a Commonwealth parliamentary cybersecurity and cybercrime project jointly funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat, UK Government, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK and Organization of American States.
Deputy Secretary-General Ojiambo said the Commonwealth Secretariat is currently reviewing the Commonwealth Model Law on Computer and Computer-Related Crimes, which helps countries to enact appropriate legislation for cybercrimes.
She added: “While the emergence of the ‘internet of things’ promises to multiply rapidly new opportunities for economic growth and social development, attempts to abuse such technology, and misapplications to nefarious ends, are sure to proliferate just as quickly.
“The threats these pose are very real, and devastating consequences will most certainly result if we fail to act decisively to counter them.”
The Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative unites 35 international organisations, including Interpol, the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, contributing to multidisciplinary programmes in Commonwealth countries.