Asia-Pacific acts to counter cybercrime
Seoul (Republic of Korea), 29 September 2011 - As a result of the Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Fighting Cybercrime, over 20 Asia-Pacific region countries committed to cooperate more closely to tackle the growing problem of cybercrime. Held 21-23 September 2011 in Seoul, Republic of Korea, the UN-sponsored conference of prosecutors and information communications technology (ICT) experts called for a
strengthened international response to security threats from cyberspace.
In less than two decades, the Internet has become an essential element in the lives of billions. However, its rapid expansion has far exceeded the international community's ability to manage cyberspace. As development has occurred in the generally liberal art, many abuses have occurred. One of the most dangerous of these is cybercrime.
Cybercrime describes a wide range of offences. These include offences against computer data and systems such as
hacking, computer-related forgery and fraud like
phishing, as well as content offences such as disseminating online child sexual abuse material, and copyright offences, including the dissemination of pirated content.
As the world's centre of economic gravity shifts eastwards, countries in Asia-Pacific have a strong interest in countering this threat to economic stability and rule of law.
"The essential elements of a response first include knowing the problem, establishing norms and standards, building technical ability and finally cooperating across borders," said Gary Lewis, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Representative for East Asia and the Pacific. "In Seoul we tried to find solutions for all these elements - but focused most heavily on the last one: international cooperation."
UNODC, the guardian of the
UN Transnational Organized Crime Convention, possesses additional mandates to fight cybercrime through various UN General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and Crime Commission resolutions. UNODC's "Towards AsiaJust" programme - which promotes cooperation among prosecutors - co-sponsored the conference with the International Telecommunication Union
(ITU), the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICT).
UNODC and ITU recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to fight cybercrime. The meeting, hosted at the Korean Supreme Prosecutors' Office, was the first joint activity under the new MOU. It involved both the headquarters and regional offices of each UN agency.
Organized by UNODC and ITU in Seoul and supported by the Korean Supreme Prosecutors' Office (which hosted the meeting), the Korean Institute of Criminology and the Korean Internet Security Agency, the conference brought together over 60 industry experts, ICT security specialists, public prosecutors and other representatives from 20 Asia-Pacific countries.
Choosing the Republic of Korea to host the conference was deliberate. According to the ITU's
Measuring the Information Society Report 2011, the Republic of Korea tops the world in its ICT Development Index, which is used to benchmark and track the overall progress that countries are making towards building information societies.
"This workshop takes place at exactly the right place and time," said Ms. Eun-Ju Kim, ITU's Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. "The Republic of Korea not only is the world No. 1 in the ITU Development Index, but also has a strong track record in fighting cybercrime."
"We look forward to 'cyber peace' through raising awareness of cybercrime and cybersecurity - from both the legal and technical communities. The workshop outcome - if implemented - will help us to build capacity and develop partnerships. Cybercrime is borderless. The best way to counter it is through close partnership and cooperation in an interdependent information society," said Kim.
Some estimates put the extent of cybercrime in excess of the total market value of the illicit drug economy.
"The future environment for cybercrime will become more fragmented," said Mr. Lewis. "It will be more difficult. But we make a mistake - and do our citizens a disservice - if we think that organized crime is too big and too complex to tackle. Cooperation between law enforcement agencies and with the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is essential. Let us not forget that in fighting this network, we ourselves also constitute a network. It may sound corny to say this, but it takes a network to defeat a network. That is our objective."