The European Commission has proposed to establish a EU Cybercrime Centre to fight online criminals and protect e-consumers. The centre will be located in the Hague, the Netherlands and will be part of the European Police Office or Europol. It is expected to start operations in January 2013.
Cybercrime on the rise
With nearly three quarters of European households having Internet access, and with millions of them using the Internet for home banking, online shopping or for social networking, cybercrime is on the rise.
Credit card details are being resold for as little as 1 €, up to 600 000 Facebook accounts are blocked daily over hacking attempts, and there are 150 000 viruses and other types of malicious code in circulation. Certain estimates even indicate that the worldwide cost of cybercrime could be as high as USD 388 billion.
Functions of the Cybercrime Centre
The Cybercrime Centre will function as the European focal point for illegal online activities.
The centre will protect social network profiles from criminal infiltration, fight online identity theft, fight online frauds generating large profits (such as frauds involving credit cards and bank credentials) and focus on such cybercrimes as online child sexual exploitation and attacks affecting critical infrastructure and information systems in the EU.
The Cybercrime Centre will provide operational support in concrete investigations, alert Member States of major cybercrime threats and identify the weaknesses in their online defences.
The new Centre will also serve as a knowledge base for national police in the Member States and it will pool European cybercrime expertise and training efforts.
For the Centre to be established, the Commission’s proposal now needs to be adopted by the budgetary authority of Europol.