UK Government to Tackle E-crime?

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In a news release from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) this week, Consumer Affairs Minister Gareth Thomas has stated that the government will shortly be announcing plans aimed at protecting the public from cybercrime; specifically people who use the internet to pay for goods and services.


The government has online fraud and scams in mind in this news release and although no concrete plans are hinted at, it aims to publish a White Paper “in the summer“.

 According to a European Commission report on cross-border e-commerce in the EU, in 2008 32% of individuals in the EU27 ordered goods or services over the internet for private use in the past year. In the UK in 2008, 57% of individuals had ordered goods or services over the internet for private use in the last year.


From personal experience, these kinds of proposals can only be a good thing, as the current system is a shambles. Earlier this year research uncovered many thousands of credit card details of UK consumers being served up from Google’s cache. These details had been stolen from various online e-tailers and included names, addresses, credit card details (card number, security code and expiry dates), telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of consumers from across Europe but mainly focused in the UK.


While private companies such as Google and credit card providers were extremely helpful to me in trying to get this data removed and consumers protected, trying to involve law enforcement was initially extremely difficult and eventually impossible.


After being pushed from my local police force, via SOCA and Interpol, mistakenly directed to the Internet Watch Foundation, and then the Trading Standards Authority; I eventually called the Metropolitain Police only to be told that “holding these kinds of details is not a crime” by the incident desk and that the specialist crime unit would call me back “if they wanted to pursue the matter further“. I never heard from them again and instead worked with Google and the credit card companies to get the information rmoved from the internet and card holders protected.


I sincerely hope that effective measures are proposed in this white paper, and that the recent changes in law enforcement, with the creation of the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) for example, offer all of us the most effective protection possible under national law and obtain the fullest international cooperation.

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