The Senate has ratified a treaty under which the United States will join more than 40 other countries, mainly from Europe, in fighting crimes committed via the Internet.

The Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime, ratified late Thursday, is the first international treaty seeking to address Internet crimes by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing cooperation among nations.

The convention had been signed by 38 European nations plus the United States, Canada, Japan and South Africa, as of the end of 2005. It was opened for signature in 2001.

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"While balancing civil liberty and privacy concerns, this treaty encourages the sharing of critical electronic evidence among foreign countries so that law enforcement can more effectively investigate and combat these crimes," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

The convention targets hackers, those spreading destructive computer viruses, those using the Internet for the sexual exploitation of children or the distribution of racist material and terrorists attempting to attack infrastructure facilities or financial institutions.