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Switzerland attacks cyber crime

The complex nature of cyber crimes poses new challenges for criminal authorities

Swiss authorities plan to launch a new office to fight crimes committed on the Internet. It will target child pornography, racism, fraud and other activities.

The new office, which is being set up by the Federal Office of Justice and Police, also aims to track down senders of computer viruses and work with criminal authorities abroad to track down Internet offenders.

“Internet crime is clearly on the rise, both in Switzerland and internationally,” said Thomas Köppel, head of the strategic crime analysis unit at the Federal Office for Justice and Police.

“We’ll be monitoring the Internet, looking for suspicious behaviour, collecting and processing information from the public and relating it to the appropriate authority,” Köppel told swissinfo.

Complex crime

Switzerland has been in a special position, said Köppel, because of criminal law still being the responsibility of cantonal authorities, a system unsuited to the complex nature of cyber crime.

“Many of the cases are very complicated: we’re never quite certain where the web offender comes from and it’s often unclear which canton is responsible for the crime, as the cases are usually international,” Köppel explained.

“So we believe that the addition of a few people will result in a big improvement in efficiency because we’ll be able to coordinate the work of the different cantons.”

The office, estimated to cost between SFr1-2 million, will be two thirds financed by cantonal authorities and one third by the federal government. It will be staffed by up to nine employees, who will have access to special software designed to track down offenders more easily.

“We hope that the number of arrests of cyber criminals will increase [with the new office],” Köppel said. “But of course that’ll be difficult to prove, because the rising number of cyber crime is also on constantly on the rise.”

The office will work closely with international criminal authorities to trace cyber offenders, says Köppel. Switzerland, already a signatory of the Council of Europe’s Cyber Crime Convention, would probably join a taskforce set up by the world’s leading industrialised nations and Russia (G8) to fight internet crime, he said.

by Vanessa Mock and Ramsey Zarifeh

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR