Britain losing battle against internet crime, MPs say

LONDON Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:21am BST

Keith Vaz, the head of Britain's influential Home Affairs Committee that has dealt extensively with the issue of militant threats, speaks during an interview in New Delhi February 15, 2012. REUTERS/B Mathur

Keith Vaz, the head of Britain's influential Home Affairs Committee that has dealt extensively with the issue of militant threats, speaks during an interview in New Delhi February 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/B Mathur

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is losing the battle against cyber crime and needs a new crack crime unit to fight the growing problem in cooperation with its global partners, particularly the European Union, a panel of MPs said in a report on Tuesday.

The Home Affairs Committee, which scrutinises the government's domestic policy, said the "state-of-the-art espionage response team" would encourage companies, banks and institutions to report hacking attempts to uncover the full extent of online crime and halt its rise.

"We are very concerned that there appears to be a ‘black hole' where low-level e-crime is committed with impunity," the report said.

The government has said it will consolidate cyber crime policing into a new unified structure as part of a shakeup of the country's policing structure, but the report said this did not go far enough.

Other government efforts to rein in Internet crime include a partnership with the defence industry and telecoms companies, announced earlier this month, which aims to safeguard the country's defence supply chain against cyber attacks.

Prime Minister David Cameron last week also tightened up online pornography laws and demanded that Internet firms block access to child abuse images.

The committee said these efforts did not go far enough, however, and said the government was still too complacent when it came to cyber crime, ranging from identity fraud and data theft to the spreading of illegal images and extremist material.

Last week, five men were charged in the United States in connection with the largest cyber crime case in U.S. history. Major multi-national corporations such as Visa and French retailer Carrefour were among the victims.

"We are not winning the war on online criminal activity," said opposition MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the bipartisan committee, which heard evidence from police, industry bodies and security experts over the course of a 10-month investigation.

"You can steal more on the Internet than you can by robbing a bank and online criminals in 25 countries have chosen the UK as their number one target."

The committee expressed concern that Britain was isolating itself by deciding to opt out of many EU-wide justice measures, but also criticised individual EU members for not doing enough to stop attacks.

"We are deeply concerned that EU partner countries are not doing enough to prevent cyber attacks from criminals within their countries on the UK," the report said.

(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Comments (2)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
There wont be any policeman ‘on the beat’ to go apprehend the culprits in real life…

I’d say many British people are more concerned with actual violence, anti-social ‘street’ behaviour and traffic & parking offences. (and in that running order!)

Jul 30, 2013 11:45am BST  --  Report as abuse
meolive wrote:
“Britain was isolating itself by deciding to opt out of many EU-wide justice measures” – who needs justice when you have Cameron’s dream of the government controlling all information you consume, produce or exchange? It’s so much easier to destroy civil liberties than actually do any real work to catch criminals, after all.

Jul 30, 2013 1:28am BST  --  Report as abuse
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