Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 21/3/2006Interpol wants to make it easier to chase cybercriminals across borders. Fair enough: it's a romantic idea to rob a bank in California and be in Tijuana by teatime, but with half my spam coming from some Eastern European statelet it's time this international crime wave was staunched.

Tuesday 21/3/2006

Interpol wants to make it easier to chase cybercriminals across borders. Fair enough: it's a romantic idea to rob a bank in California and be in Tijuana by teatime, but with half my spam coming from some Eastern European statelet it's time this international crime wave was staunched.

But who is Interpol anyway? Who regulates it? I've got enough problems trying to keep track of all the information the UK state apparatus wants to beg, borrow or steal from me and what if any rights I've got if I disagree. The only thing I know about Interpol is that it provides well turned out and unfeasibly efficient Europlod for Hollywood movies. A quick jaunt to the Web site isn't very forthcoming on this: the operation is the second biggest international organisation, it's run by a general assembly with delegates appointed by 184 countries, but then the trail runs dry. There's no delegate list, for example, nor contact details by country for whoever it is who does the appointing. The HQ is 'inviolable' and 'the organisation shall enjoy immunity from legal process' (except parking tickets), so I doubt you'd get very far by turning up on the doorstep and trying to use any of the UK or European laws that look after us.

In fact, as far as I can tell, individuals do not feature at all on the list of things Interpol knows or cares about — with the exception of those it's keen to get up before the beak. All liaison is through each country's own official organisations, and it's with these groups that all the various rules and regulations are concerned. I haven't tried marching into Islington nick and asking "Who do I talk to about Interpol?": somehow I doubt it's an experiment that'll be worth trying, Last time I tried to report a credit card theft they looked at me as if I was wearing a parrot costume and enquiring about cuttlefish.

So there's work to be done. I suggest that if Interpol wants to be given more power to scoop up this and that, it should work harder at letting us know who it is and how it impinges on our lives. Given that most people learn most about public services through TV drama, I suggest that Interpol liaison gets somebody into The Bill as soon as possible, and shows them tracking down some spotty phisher connected with the Sun Hill Russian mafia.

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