The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) officially opened last week at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, marking an important step in the fight against organised crime and terrorism. The centre will support European cooperation in protecting against cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, as well as combating online fraud and child sexual abuse.
Britain is currently the target of up to 1,000 cyber attacks every hour, including attempts to obtain sensitive government information, disrupt critical infrastructure and target British businesses. Back in 2010, the government identified cyber attacks as one of the key threats to the UK in its new national security strategy. Yet the Commons defence select committee only recently warned that the threat of a terrorist cyber attack is increasing at an ‘almost unimaginable speed‘, and that the government is being left increasingly vulnerable.
Head of City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard issued a stark warning recently that Britain is also losing the war against cyber crime. He stated that around half of the £73 billion lost to fraud in the UK each year is through online scams. A significant proportion of online fraud is undertaken by serious organised crime groups, while evidence suggests that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are also using the proceeds of online fraud to finance their activities.
EC3 will help national authorities to stay one step ahead of terrorists and criminals online, by pooling information, resources and expertise. Through supporting international criminal investigations, it will also help bring perpetrators to justice and prevent the British economy from losing so much money each year. Director of Europol Rob Wainright commented that the new centre “will make the EU smarter, faster and stronger in its fight against cybercrime.”
Criminals and terrorists in the 21st century clearly do not respect national borders, which necessitates an international response based on police and judicial cooperation. However, this is exactly the type of cooperation that Tory europhobes are proposing to opt out of. Especially at a time when the UK is increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks and crime, it would be madness to halt police cooperation with our European partners.
Centre for British Influence, 13th January 2013