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13 January 2013


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A Collective EU Response to Cybercrime: EUROPOL’s European Cybercrime Centre

The European Commission has approved the launch of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol which officially commenced activities on 1 January 2013. Besides other functions, its aim is to support Member States and the European Union’s entities in establishing operational and analytical capacity for investigations and cooperation with international partners.

The EC3 is planned to become the focal point in the EU’s larger framework of fight against cybercrime. Its mandate is proposed to cover the following areas of cybercrime:

  1. cybercrimes committed by organised crime groups, particularly those generating large criminal profits;
  2. cybercrimes which cause serious harm to their victims, such as online child sexual exploitation; and
  3. cybercrimes (including cyber attacks) affecting critical infrastructure and information systems of the European Union.1

The EU Communication ‘Tackling Crime in our Digital Age: Establishing a European Cybercrime Centre’ (COM(2012) 140) identifies a number of challenges in the effective investigation of cybercrime and the prosecution of offenders at the European level that are expected to be responded to with the help of the EC3, such as jurisdictional issues; insufficient intelligence-sharing capabilities; technical aspects of tracing cybercrime perpetrators; limited investigative and forensic capacities; lack of trained staff, and inconsistent cooperation with other stakeholders responsible for cyber security.2 Setting up the centre is also complementing legislative proposals such as the Directive on attacks against information systems and the Directive on combating the sexual exploitation of children online and child pornography adopted in 2011.3

Drawing on Europol’s existing infrastructure and law enforcement network, EC3 is striving for a collaborative approach in responding to cybercrime in cooperating with a wide range of stakeholders such as CERTs, EU Member States, international organisations, private sector, civil society entities and academia. The main fields of cooperation include forensic services (e.g., a range of in-house services and equipment), training, information exchange, data analyses, awareness rising, streamlining R&D activities, as well as assisting countries in building capacity to combat cybercrime.4

According to the head of EC3, Mr Troels Oerting, the new office will host a ‘secure outreach platform’, which will allow exchanges of strategic information and best practice across the EU and deploy experts with mobile offices – a kind of ‘flying squad’ – to deliver immediate assistance. They are also planning to build a new cyber lab with a ‘cyber innovation room’ that would support Member States’ investigations.5

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