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EU mulls new central cybercrime agency

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The European Commission will investigate the establishment of a new EU agency to tackle cybercrime. The new agency could be part of Europol, EU ministers have said.

The Council of Ministers has asked the Commission to look at its agreed set of cybercrime objectives and investigate whether a new, centralised agency is a better way of achieving those than the current inter-agency cooperation.

Its objectives include raising the standard of specialisation of investigators and prosecutors as well as judges and forensic staff, encouraging information sharing between countries' police forces, and harmonising the approaches taken to fighting cybercrime in the EU's 27 countries.

"[The Council] proposes that the Commission draw up a feasibility study on the possibility of creating a centre to carry out the aforementioned actions, where they have not already been achieved," said the text adopted by the Council this week. "The centre might also evaluate and monitor the preventive and investigative measures to be carried out.

"This feasibility study should consider, in particular, the aim, scope and possible financing of the centre and whether it should be located at Europol," it said.

The Council said that the proposed centre could not only help to train judges, police and prosecutors but could also "serve as a permanent liaison body with user and victims' organizations and the private sector. The centre could design and update a model European contract for cooperation between the private and public sectors.

"Cybercrime is borderless by nature," said the proposal, outlining why action was needed. "For measures to combat cybercrime to be effective, adequate cross-border provisions are needed and international cooperation and mutual assistance in law enforcement within Europe and between the EU and third countries needs to be substantially enhanced."

The Council divided the EU's plans on cybercrime into short, medium and long term actions. It said that the Commission should track what progress had been made on these plans and that they should be included in the Commission's 'Stockholm Programme', its programme for crime and security government over the next four years.

The Council proposal also calls for EU countries to adopt a common anti-cybercrime approach in relation to IP addresses and internet domain names. It has asked the Commission to help to establish common action on the revocation of domain names and IP addresses.

The European Union already has a centre for research into cybercrime but it is an information service rather than a crime fighting agency. The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), based in Greece, investigates and classifies information security threats and provides advice on them.

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