Online crimes such as fraud and personal information theft have cost China 289 billion yuan (US$46.4 billion) in 2012, but the lack of legal support makes it tough for local authorities to reduce the losses.
Citing a study by the People's Public Security University of China on Internet crimes in the country, Global Times reported Tuesday that local public security departments investigated more than 118,000 Internet crimes last year, with many cases involving multiple victims.
The study noted an average of 700,000 Internet users in China are victims of cybercrime each day. However, many victims do not report the crime as the cases may involve only small amounts of money and are thought not worthy of involving the authorities, it added.
Topping the list of online crimes, according to number of victims and money involved, are fraud, prostitution, pyramid selling and personal information theft, it stated.
Legal support lacking
However, local law enforcement agencies have their hands tied in fighting onlline crimes given the lack of legal support, the study revealed. Global Times said while China passed a regulation at the end of 2012 to strengthen information protection, a comprehensive law on Internet crimes is still badly needed.
Wei Yongzheng, professor at the People's Public Security University and lead author of the report, told the online news site that Internet crimes are normally prosecuted using existing criminal laws but these are only vaguely related to Web-based offenses and not entirely practical.
Wei said: "For example, if hackers attack the Web site of a financial organization and transfer money, there are no laws pinpointing the parties responsible during the Internet invasion. It is unclear whether the hacker, the bank's Web site or any other related party should shoulder some responsibilities for the crime."
Chinese authorities have been ramping up Web policing efforts since March 2012. In mid-October, the Ministry of Public Security said it solved 4,400 Internet-related cases while busting 700 cybercriminal gangs and arrested 8,900 suspects.