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Peer calls for UK cyber-crime portal

Is e-crime treated seriously by police?

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A parliamentary committee set up to look at trends in cybercrime is considering the establishment of a website allowing people to report electronic crime.

Lord Broers, chairman of the science and technology select committee, said the idea is one of several his committee is considering in its study on e-crime, which is due to report in the summer. The committee will also consider whether changes in UK legislation might be needed in order to fight against hackers, VXers, phishers, and other cyber crooks.

US citizens can report cybercrime through the Internet Crime Complaint Centre, which acts as a single clearing house. Something similar in the UK would aid the fight against cybercrime.

As well as providing more accurate statistics, a UK-based cybercrime reporting website might encourage more people to come forward. Since April, people attempting to report incidents of e-crime to the police have been told to go to their banks instead. Credit card fraud is no longer a reportable offence.

Some security experts we spoke to reckon the move makes it easier to aggregate data about fraud, but Lord Broers expressed reservations about whether the change sent the wrong signals. "In the UK, people are being told to go to their bank first. We are not sure that is right. These are crimes and the police should be equipped to deal with them," Lord Broers said, the BBC reports.

Reporting electronic crime should be as simple as reporting ordinary crime. "People who, for example, have been the victim of an eBay scam tend to think how stupid they were and that there is no point in going to police. If you were mugged you would be sure to go straight to the police," he said.

Lord Broers also expressed concern that Britain no longer has a dedicated cybercrime agency since the National High Tech Crime Unit was merged with of National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service to form the Serious Organised Crime Agency last year. ®

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