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Towards a general policy on the fight against cybercrime

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Towards a general policy on the fight against cybercrime

As the internet has become part of our everyday lives, so too the internet user has become vulnerable to criminals often operating on other continents. In light of the rapid increase in cybercrime*, the European Commission, in 2007, prepared the ground for a comprehensive policy to tackle it.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the Committee of the Regions: Towards a general policy on the fight against cyber crime (COM(2007) 267 final of 22.5.2007)

SUMMARY

As the internet has become part of our everyday lives, so too the internet user has become vulnerable to criminals often operating on other continents. In light of the rapid increase in cybercrime*, the European Commission, in 2007, prepared the ground for a comprehensive policy to tackle it.

WHAT DOES THE COMMUNICATION DO?

It sought to present a general policy to better coordinate the fight against cybercrime.

KEY POINTS

Objective and actions

This was to strengthen the fight against cybercrime at national, European and international levels by:

1.

Improved operational law enforcement cooperation by strengthening and clarifying responsibilities between Europol, Eurojust and other structures.

2.

Coordinated and interlinked training programmes for EU countries’ law enforcement and judicial authorities involving Europol, Eurojust, the European Police College and the European Judicial Training Network.

3.

Better political cooperation and coordination between EU countries by creating a permanent EU contact point for information exchange and an EU cybercrime training platform.

4.

Political and legal cooperation withnon-EU countries via the Council of Europe’s 2001 Convention on cybercrime (and its Additional Protocol), the G8 Lyon-Roma High-Tech Crime Group and Interpol-administered projects.

5.

Improved public-private sector dialogue to create mutual confidence and share relevant information.

6.

Standardising EU countries’ legislation and definitions in the area of cybercrime.

7.

Developing measures/indicators of the extent of cybercrime.

8.

Raising awareness of the dangers and costs of cybercrime.

9.

EU research programmes, such as under the Internal Security Fund - Police.

ACHIEVEMENTS

These include:

a directive on combating the sexual exploitation of children online and child pornography;

the establishment of the European Cybercrime Centre (2013);

a directive on attacks against information systems (2013).

For more information see the European Commission's web pages on cybercrime.

BACKGROUND

Article 68 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, which came into force in 2009, formally recognised the European Council's pre-eminent role in lawmaking in the area of home affairs. This allows action against cybercrime to be complemented by EU laws and more wide-ranging initiatives.

KEY TERM

Cybercrimes: criminal acts committed using electronic communications networks and information systems or against such networks and systems.

It may be broken down into 3 forms:

traditional forms of criminal activity, but using the internet to commit crimes (like fraud or forgery). These range from identity theft to ‘phishing’ (where online criminals set up a fake banking website to trick customers into giving them their password or data so as to steal their money). The internet has also transformed international trade in drugs, arms and endangered species;

publication of illegal content, such as material inciting terrorism, violence, racism, xenophobia or child sexual abuse;

crime unique to electronic networks, new and often wide-ranging and large-scale crimes, unknown in the pre-internet age. Here, criminals attack information systems, sometimes threatening critical information infrastructures of the state and thus directly its citizens. These attacks can be via ‘botnets’ (an acronym of ‘robot networks’) where criminals distribute ‘malware’ (malicious software) that, when downloaded, turns a user's computer into a ‘bot’. A network of such infected computers is then used to commit crimes without their users knowing.

RELATED ACTS

Joint communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace (JOIN (2013) 1 final of 7 February 2013).

Last updated: 26.05.2015

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