G8 nations team up to fight cyber-crime

International co-operation in tracing computer criminals across borders

The world's leading industrialised nations commit to unprecedented levels of international co-operation in order to combat the perceived threat of international computer crime Wednesday.

At the end of a three day conference on computer crime in Paris, the G8 nations -- the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Russia, Japan and Italy -- agree the importance of co-operation, particularly in tracing computer criminals across international borders.

"The ability to locate and identify Internet criminals through different systems is critical to deterring, investigating and prosecuting crime that has an electronic component," said a representative. "The cross-border nature of computer networks makes it relatively easy for offenders to store information in other jurisdictions and to move or erase it quickly to elude seizure."

The G8 wants to see all member countries adopt similar laws on cyber-crime and to persuade other countries to adopt co-operative anti-cyber-crime laws. They also want to improve cross border communication and co-operation in order to speed up the extradition of suspected computer criminals and improve the gathering of forensic computer evidence.

The European nations present have already produced a Council of Europe Treaty aimed to bring the computer crime laws in different European countries into line.

UK delegate Lorna Harris of the Home Office Judicial Co-operation Unit describes the summit as more that just a public show of international strength. "This is more than a diplomatic effort," she tells ZDNet France. "Even if it's a first step, talking to each other, co-operation is essential." She also emphasises the importance of getting such high level commitment from governments. "The G8 countries are the first concerned and they have the power to influence other countries," she says.

The summit also calls for increased co-operation between governments and the private [computer security] sector. Chief technical officer at US computer security firm Symantec, Ron Moritz, who attended the summit, describes it as a step in the right direction. "Certainly this [cyber-crime] is a world issue and it is very severe," he says. "We came to the conclusion that the problem is so serious that co-operation between government and industry is vital."

The French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement opened the cyber-crime summit on Monday by citing the recent ILoveYou virus outbreak as the type of crime government wants to prevent. "The news in recent days has underlined in a most timely way that the spectacular development of the Internet and digital networks in general is not sheltered from a number of risks," he says.

There have been suggestions that the legal system in the Philippines may have slowed the capture and effective prosecution of ILoveYou virus suspects.

Jerome Thorel writes for ZDNet France.

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