COMMONS

UK failing to win the war on e-crime

30 July 2013

The Home Affairs Committee published its Report on e-crime on Tuesday 30 July 2013 (Fifth Report, Session 2013-14, HC 70)

After a 10 month inquiry the Home Affairs Select Committee has published its first ever report on E-crime.

Conclusions

The Committee concluded that:

  • A dedicated state of the art espionage response team should be established so that British companies, media, and institutions can immediately contact it to report an attack so that effective action can be taken.
  • There appears to be a ‘black hole’ where e-crime is committed with impunity. Online criminal activity which defrauds victims of money is often not reported to or investigated by law enforcement. Banks simply reimburse the victims with no pursuit of the perpetrators. Criminals who commit a high volume of low level fraud can still make huge profits. Banks must be required to report all e-crime fraud to law enforcement.
  • It is alarmed that CEOP is having its budget cut by 10% over 4 years and it could lose its laser-like focus when merged with the NCA.
  • It is still too easy for people to access inappropriate online content, particularly indecent images of children, terrorism incitement and sites informing people how to commit online crime. There is no excuse for complacency. The Committee urges those responsible to take stronger action to remove such content. The Government should draw up a mandatory code of conduct with them to remove material which breaches acceptable standards.
  • The DPP should review sentencing guidance and ensure e-criminals receive the same sentences as if they had stolen the same amount of money or data offline.
  • The Government should look at setting up a similar organisation to the Internet Watch Foundation focused on reporting and removing online terrorist content. The Committee encourages those companies who donate to the Internet Watch Foundation to give more.

Committee Chair, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP said:

“We are not winning the war on online criminal activity. We are being too complacent about these E-wars because the victims are hidden in cyberspace. The threat of a cyber attack to the UK is so serious it is marked as a higher threat than a nuclear attack.

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. Astonishingly, some are operating from EU countries. If we don’t have a 21st century response to this 21st century crime, we will be letting those involved in these gangs off the hook. We need to establish a state of the art espionage response centre. At the moment the law enforcement response to e-criminals is fractured and half of it is not even being put into the new National Crime Agency.

The tragic murders of April Jones and Tia Sharp have shown the terrible consequences of access to indecent images on the web. Young people are increasingly radicalised online by the words of radical clerics such as Anwar al-Awlaki on YouTube or internet magazine Inspire. What starts on the web, ends up on the streets of Woolwich. The Prime Minister was right this week to highlight the responsibility of the Internet Service Providers, search engines and social media sites. They are far too laid back about what takes place on their watch and they need to do more to take inappropriate content down. If they do not act, the Government should legislate.”

Further information

  • About Parliament: Select Committees
  • Visiting Parliament: Watch committees
    • Image: iStockphoto

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