EC eyes cyber crime crackdown

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BRUSSELS -- European police forces should work hand-in-hand with businesses to take action against Web sites posting illegal images such as child pornography, the European Commission said Tuesday.

The commission -- the EU's executive authority -- said it wants to target cyber crime in all forms. These range from such traditional crime as fraud or forgery committed over the Internet to new crimes including posting child pornography or incitement to racial hatred.

The EC also warned that specifically electronic crimes had emerged in recent years, including attacks against information systems, credit card fraud and hacking.

EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini said the policy will only work if businesses are involved.

"EU policy would eventually include improved operational law enforcement cooperation, better political cooperation and coordination between EU governments, possible legislative action, as well as political and legal cooperation with third countries," he said.

Frattini's call comes four months after he persuaded EU justice and home affairs ministers to push for tougher rules on the sale of violent video and computer games to children -- an issue that is set to be raised at the G8 summit next month.

Officials said authorities had obvious difficulties in keeping pace with Internet technologies and pointed out that the cross-border character of these new crimes also underlined the need for strengthened international cooperation and coordination.

"There is an urgent need to take action, at national as well as European level, against all forms of cyber crime, which are increasingly significant threats to critical infrastructures, society, business and citizens," the EC said in its report.

The report said the number of cyber crimes is growing and criminal activities were becoming increasingly sophisticated and internationalized. "Clear indications point to a growing involvement of organized crime groups," the report noted.

The commission report comes with new EU member Estonia reeling from three weeks of cyber attacks on government and private Web sites. These appear to have stemmed initially from Russia, with which Estonia has been in dispute over plans to move a Soviet-era statue from the Baltic nation.

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