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Global cop co-operation treaties need cloudy reboot

Australian Federal Police say cross-border ops are getting harder

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International treaties that allow police forces and spookhaüses around the world to collaborate are starting to creak beneath the weight of the cloud, and will soon need a refresh, according to Tim Morris, national manager for high technology crime operations at Australia's Federal Police.

Speaking at the CeBit Australia conference today, Morris revealed a little more about “Operation Lino”, a collaboration between Australian and Romanian authorities that saw half-a-dozen crims, including a wrestler known as “George The Carpathian Bear Ignat”, end up behind bars after skimming 30,000 Australian credit cards and using them to go on a $AUD30m spending spree.

It was possible to collar The Carpathian Bear, Morris said, because “Romanian Police have a very competent cyber crime unit”, thanks in part to the USA tossing plenty of money its way. The bust was also helped by the fact Romania was willing to lock up the gang, instead of requiring Australia to extradite the crims and indulge in all manner of cross-border legal back-and-forth to make that happen.

Morris told the conference such arrangements are very helpful, but added his fears that when Police try to access data stored in the cloud it will likely be harder to collar the bad guys as the nations involved try to figure out jurisdictional issues. Morris hinted at all sorts of problems being created if wrongdoings in one nation lead to data being stored in a cloud operated by an entity headquartered in a second nation, but actually resident on a server in a third nation.

“The old idea of where soil is attached to one's shoes or server is not going to serve us well in future,” Morris said, adding that “Mutual legal assistance requests can take weeks and months to process."

“There is no way they can keep up with a traditional evidence processes we have today. Mutual assistance treaties are under pressure.”

What will help, he said, is telecommunications metadata collection, without which he feels some criminal investigations won't be viable.

Morris' views were supported by Joe Franzi, assistant secretary of information security operations at Australia's sigint agency, the Defence Signals Directorate. Franzi agreed with Morris that Operation Lino represented just the kind of collaboration needed to fight online criminals, but was silent on international treaties. ®

Bootnote Media attending Franzi's speech were prohibited from “ tweeting, filming, recording or transcribing” his words. ®

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