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UK.gov revamps cybercrime strategy

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The government has announced a modest revamp of its strategy for fighting cybercrime.

In a low-key statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday, junior Home Office minister Alan Campbell said the strategy aimed to build confidence in the provision of (government and private sector) services via the internet, tackle financial crime on the net and protect children.

The strategy puts the newly established Office for Cyber Security at the forefront of tackling cybercrime and emphasises five key elements, Campbell told MPs.

The five key touchstones in the new policy include better coordination of the fight against cybercrime across government departments and providing an effective law enforcement response to electronic crime. Police response will be informed by the "development of accurate reporting mechanisms for the public", a reference to the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC).

Other key goals in the government strategy include raising public confidence, through education initiatives like Get Safe Online and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), as well as building closer ties with industry.

Finally, the government has pledged to continue working with international law enforcement agencies to fight both child abuse and financially motivated cybercrime. UK.gov wants to strengthen the capacity of multilateral institutions to fight all forms of electronic crime.

The policy itself is largely an extension of previously announced policies and largely uncontroversial. The devil is in the detail, such as how much resources get allocated to the Police Central eCrime Unit or how seriously banks will take frauds reported to them through action fraud.

The UK has struggled to establish a cybercrime strategy since the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was amalgamated into the Serious and Organised Crime Unit back in April 2006. Minsters eventually heeded calls to create the PCeU and establish a better reporting mechanism for cybercrime in October 2008.

The new strategy is a continuation of ministers taking more interest in fidgeting cybercrime, which is seen as a serious obstacle for plans to make government service available over the web as well as the growth of eCommerce.

Campbell's statement hints at a reshuffling of responsibility, with more emphasis placed on the Cabinet Office and slightly less on police institution such as the City of London Police and SOCA in leading the fight against cybercrime. ®

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