An international agreement on cybercrime is to be due to be signed in Budapest today by all 26 member states and their partners, including the USA, Canada, Japan and South Africa, following months of negotiations between Europe and America.

Governments, police forces and industry specialists have been working together to create a uniform approach to online offences, including everything from hacking and credit card fraud to child pornography.

The Council of Europe, set up to tackle the ever-growing issue of internet crime, was responsible for drafting the convention.

"Cybercrime and cyber-terrorism represent a serious challenge to society as a whole and this convention provides the first co-ordinated and international response to this challenge," said Hans Christian Kruger, deputy secretary general of the council of Europe, at today's signing.

Guy De Vel, director of general legal affairs at the European Council, said the contract had been drawn up to strike "a precious balance between the requirements of criminal investigations and respect for individual rights".

The UK has already stepped up its internet security policies in the wake of the 11 September attacks, giving police the ability to track the email communications and internet movements of any person suspected of terrorism.

The treaty lays down common definitions of certain criminal offences, defines methods for criminal investigations and prosecutions and outlines methods for international communication.

A full copy of the draft convention can be found at