On 26-28 February, the EU and the Cybercrime Programme Office of the Council of Europe (C-PROC) organised an international meeting in Tbilisi for foreign service providers from across the world to discuss challenges and future cooperation to combat cybercrime.
Cooperation between criminal justice authorities and private sector entities, including in particular service providers, is essential to protect societies against crime. Such cooperation concerns primarily access by police and prosecution services to data held by service providers for criminal justice purposes, but also the sharing of information and experience, as well as training.
In this context, the European Commission and the C-PROC hosted 80 participants from 30 countries around the world, including from the Latin America (Chile, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Paraguay), South-East Asia (Sri Lanka), Western Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Cabo Verde, Burkina Faso), the Southern Neighbourhood region (Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan), as well as the Eastern Partnership Region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), the IPA region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey) and Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Romania. The event benefited also from the attendance of a large Georgian delegation of more than 25 representatives, as well as from the participation of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Eurojust, Council of Europe Office in Georgia, Council of Europe experts, US Department of Justice and representatives from Facebook and EuroISPA.
The meeting was organised as a joint effort of several projects implemented by C-PROC, including the CyberEast project which falls under the EU4Digital initiative.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Carl Hartzell, Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia, said: “Tackling cybercrime is fundamental to effective criminal justice. Fighting corruption, organised crime, economic crimes, even crimes against persons, these days require an effective framework to fight cybercrime – for instance in relation to access to e-evidence or online crime proceeds. Cooperation between criminal justice authorities and with private sector entities, including in particular service providers, is essential in this respect. Of course, strong cybersecurity must go hand in hand with an open, free and secure cyberspace where human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law fully apply.”
Virgil Spiridon, Head of Operations of the Cybercrime Programme Office of the Council of Europe (C-PROC) based in Bucharest, Romania, added:“The cooperation between law enforcement and multinational service providers (MSPs) concerns not only cybercrime investigations, but also other types of investigations which are involving electronic evidence and data from MSPs”.
Speaking from the private sector’s perspective, Maximilian Schubert, President of the European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA), drew attention to the fact that
“both law enforcement authorities and the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) want to make the Internet safe for users; however, ISPs have a different mindset, not focusing on investigating and prosecuting, but on keeping the customers satisfied. [They] have a common interest, but the approaches might differ — this is important to keep in mind when looking for cooperation.”