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European Union: Proposal to Establish a European Cybercrime Center

(Apr. 9, 2012) On March 28, 2012, the European Commission re-introduced a 2010 proposal to create a European Cybercrime Center (ECC), designed to protect the interests of individuals and businesses from ever-increasing cyber threats. (Press Release, European Commission, An EU Cybercrime Centre to Fight Online Criminals and Protect e-Consumers(Mar. 28, 2012).)

The ECC will be located within the European Police Office in The Hague, The Netherlands. In order for the ECC to become operational, its budget must be adopted by the European Police Office. The ECC will serve as a focal point to coordinate activities to combat illegal activities of organized groups, especially those who specialize in online banking crimes, such as fraudulent use of credit cards and bank credentials. In carrying out its functions, the ECC will assist cybercrime investigators, prosecutors, and judges in the Member States and will also provide technical and forensic assistance to the private sector. (Id.)

Among the many tasks assigned to the ECC is the identification of organized cyber-criminal networks and other cybercrime offenders. The ECC will also focus on combating cybercrimes that entail serious repercussions for the victims, such as sexual exploitation, and cyber attacks involving critical infrastructure. Consequently, this proposal complements an EU draft directive on attacks against information systems (Id.; Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Attacks Against Information Systems and Repealing Council Framework Decision, COM (2010) 517) and Directive 2011/92EU on Combating the Sexual Exploitation of Children Online and Child Pornography adopted in 2011. (Press Release, supra; 2011 O.J. (L355) 1.)

Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, commented, “[w]e can't let cybercriminals disrupt our digital lives. A European Cybercrime Centre with Europol will become a hub for cooperation in defending an internet that is free, open and safe.” (Press Release, supra.)