Can Ameripol Center Effectively Combat Cyber Crime?

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Following the most recent Ameripol meeting, national police chiefs announced the creation of a cyber security center to prevent and combat electronic crimes, underscoring growing regional concern over this type of criminal activity and raising questions about the best way to address cyber crime.

On August 7, the Police Community of the Americas (Ameripol) announced a new law enforcement institute would be put in place to evaluate and address cyber crime threats, reported Prensa Latina. According to a document released by Ameripol, the center will collect regional data on internet crimes and provide support to law enforcement bodies in the Americas. The proposed initiative includes law enforcement training, the creation of benchmarks, technical assistance and international cooperation with other police organizations.

The decision came as a result of an Ameripol meeting that took place in Quito, Ecuador between August 4 and August 6. At the meeting, members also agreed to strengthen efforts to combat human trafficking and corruption, and announced the creation of a pilot information exchange program.

InSight Crime Analysis

Cyber crime is a serious problem in Latin America and costs the region billions of dollars a year. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina have been among the hardest hit countries in the region. According to a report published by RSA Security (pdf), in 2013 Colombia and Brazil ranked among the top 10 countries in the world for estimated losses from phishing — the online theft of financial or personal information — which cost the countries an estimated $95 million and $86 million, respectively.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Cyber Crime

Several countries in the region have taken steps to combat cyber crime, with Peru and Brazil updating their criminal codes to target illegal internet activities and Colombia creating a special police unit. In 2013, technology company Microsoft announced the establishment of a regional anti-cyber crime office in Bogota, Colombia.

Ameripol’s decision to create a regional cyber security center will likely provide law enforcement agencies with additional tools to combat cyber crime and assist in the development of best practices to combat the crime in each country.

However, it also raises questions about how these types of security threats can be effectively addressed. As a recent case of Russian hackers stealing more than a billion internet passwords demonstrates, cyber theft is a borderless crime, meaning a centralized regional law enforcement hub is unlikely to be enough to stop it. Meanwhile, governments may be wary of sharing too much knowledge, lest they give away key information regarding their own cyber-espionage tactics. 

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