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Source: The Hindu

Posted on May 23, 2000

      Recent cyber crimes such as the "I Love You" virus have given the cyber crime conference of the G-8 nations a certain edge. For three days over 300 representatives of Governments, law enforcement agents, producers of information technology (both hardware and software) and consumers from the world's leading industrialised nations are in Paris discussing ways and means of reducing or controlling Internet fraud and other criminal acts in cyberspace.

      "IT engineers do not often have the opportunity to meet those involved in repressing fraud and vice versa," an official of the French Foreign Office told mediapersons. The title of the conference is telling: "Dialogue between the public and private sectors on security and confidence in cyberspace."

      The challenges are enormous: how can one continue to attract consumers to e-commerce when a virus like "I Love You" can strike at millions of computers across the planet. With 15-year- olds (as in the case of "Mafiaboy") thumbing their noses at the big daddies of the net, the situation has become a thorn in the flesh of Governments and large corporations.

      Until today, the hunt for cyber-pirates has been the responsibility of each individual state. The U.S., of course, stands head and shoulders above everyone else with the FBI calling the shots. The U.S. postal services have trained 1,500 inspectors to fight Internet fraud. The Securities Exchange Commission has a special force of 240 persons and the Federal Trade Commission brings all these diverse bodies together in the fight against Internet fraud.

      As usual, Europe has been lagging considerably behind. But last month, there was an attempt to react with the publication of a draft convention on cyber-crime. Described as the "first international treaty" against such crime, it attempts to promote the concept of "tele-investigation" - whereby enquiries can be carried out online.

      The security of information remains in the hands of several fragmented and scattered bodies within individual countries. This conference will attempt to create unified structures for fighting Internet crime. The French Interior Minister, Mr. Jean Pierre Chevenement, announced the creation of a new Central Office to fight crime linked to information and communication technologies. He also urged Interpol, the international crime fighting organisation, to set up a 24-hour network of highly qualified specialists who could intervene very rapidly once a crime had been committed.

      The novelty of the Paris meeting is that it brings Government experts and technology leaders from the private sector together for talks on how they can cooperate.

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