Cracking down on cybercrimes, protecting children is priority
MEPs urge illegal online content be removed immediately, platform to help targeted users
6 October, 2017
Photo © European Parliament
Commissioner Julian King said that cyber-attacks do not pay heed to geographical borders and they can be achieved at a surprisingly low cost, but with devastating effect.
As it is underlined in a recent analysis of Europol, cybercrime continues to grow as society becomes increasingly digitised. About 80% of companies in Europe have experienced at least one cyber-attack. On 3 October, at their plenary sitting in Strasbourg, MEPs backed with a wide majority the report on the fight against cybercrime, authored by the Greek centre-right lawmaker Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi. The EU must invest more in cybersecurity to prevent attacks that are targeted at critical infrastructure and destabilising societies, said MEPs in the resolution.
Showing the challenges, legislative gaps and new threats, the lawmakers called for more measures that will ensure the exchange of information on such crimes. They highlighted as a priority the need to protect vulnerable groups such as children and young people online. Besides improving information exchanges through Eurojust, Europol, both in The Hague and the located in Crete ENISA, MEPs also urged EU countries in cooperation with Europol to set up related platforms as a matter of urgency as to ensure that all internet users know how to appeal for help when they are illegally targeted online.
Pointing out that she herself had been active as a lawyer in her country and had dealt actively with combatting this type of crime, rapporteur Vozemberg-Vrionidi accented on the ease and speed with which such crimes are committed, their anonymity, cross-border nature and difficult investigation.
Cyber-attacks do not pay heed to geographical borders and they can be achieved at a surprisingly low cost, but with devastating effect, Julian King, EU commissioner in charge of the Security Union, who took part at the debate, emphasised. He added that the objective of the package of measures that the Commission issued on 19 September is to promote cybersecurity. Building on the cybersecurity public-private partnership, the Commission has said that we want to create a network of cybersecurity competence centres and a new European cybersecurity research and competence centre at its hub, he noticed.
The resolution asks as well for ensuring that illegal online content be removed immediately by due legal process or that access is blocked from EU territory when removal is not feasible. MEPs asserted that law enforcement authorities should have access to relevant information, such as who is the user of a certain IP address in the context of criminal investigations and asked for update of the EU legal framework on cybercrime, including harmonised rules for determining the status of an online provider as domestic or foreign. They pushed the ICT security community to engage in the reporting of illegal content, such as child sex abuse material, and for more investments in education to solve the lack of qualified IT professionals.