EU fights cybercrime with 'remote search' strategy

The EU Council of Ministers has adopted an EC cybercrime-fighting strategy that includes 'cyber-patrols' and police searching suspect systems remotely

The European Union Council of Ministers has agreed to adopt measures to fight online crime that will include 'cyber-patrols' and remote searches of suspect systems by police.

The EU plans to implement the strategy within the next five years. Another measure will encourage police forces to set up joint cross-border investigation teams, according to a European Commission statement on Thursday. There will also be increased data sharing between the police and the private sector.

The operational strategy is meant to build and reinforce links between the police and the private sector, and increase knowledge-sharing of investigation methods and trends in cybercrime.

"This is about co-operation between traditional police authorities, to share figures and data concerning people under investigation," European Commission justice, freedom and security spokesman Michele Cercone told ZDNet UK on Friday. "It's to facilitate the exchange of information between law-enforcement authorities."

The Commission's statement outlines the strategy's desired outcomes. It aims to encourage the private sector and police to respond quickly to information requests and enable remote searches; to instigate what the Commission describes as "cyber-patrols" to track criminals online; and to encourage joint investigations across borders.

Access to police data will be controlled, Cercone said, and will happen only in the event of an ongoing judicial investigation. Misuse of such data would give grounds for compensation for the affected individual.

"If the data is used without justifiable reason there are tools for compensation, and access to personal data will be regulated," Cercone added.