Britain spearheads European e-crime reporting portal

British computer security experts are designing a Web portal to gather more precise statistics on Europeans victimized by Internet crime, an area that remains difficult for collecting accurate data.

The portal will be part of Victims of Internet Crime Europe, or VOICE, an effort to raise awareness about computer crime, said Hamid Jahankhani, a principal lecturer of computing and business information systems at the University of East London (UEL). The announcement was made Wednesday at the Third Annual International Conference on Global E-security at UEL.

Experts agree that Internet crime is rising. But gathering statistics on e-crime is inherently difficult: victims generally don’t report it since they don’t know where to complain, said David Lilburn Watson, a computer forensic experts who runs Forensic Computing Ltd.

There is also a problem with collecting data. Europe doesn’t have a clearing house that tracks Internet crime victims. The U.S. has groups such as the Internet Fraud Watch and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is run by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and National White Collar Crime Center, but both use different methodologies in collecting data that needs to be “statistically robust,” Watson said.

Watson and Jahankhani envision a portal that can be a single repository for Internet crime data for countries in the European Union. Experts could then use data-mining software to look for trends and commonalities that can aid law enforcement. Victims can anonymously provide information on crime, from inappropriate images to auction fraud or how they were scammed, Watson said.

Eventually, the portal could help “to bring Internet crime higher up on the agenda” of law enforcement, Watson said. Without accurate statistics, the problem is impossible to manage and control, he said.

Jahankhani said the nonprofit group plans to approach the E.U. for funding. So far, the idea has been informally floated to industry groups and companies in the computer-security field, which have expressed interest, Watson said. Plans are under way to design the Web site, although no timetable is set for when it will go live.

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