Strengthening international cooperation and joining hands in fighting against transnational cybercrime

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, November 9, 2010
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G u Jian

Network Security Protection Service, Ministry of Public Security

With the rapid development of the Internet, it is playing an increasingly important role in social, political, economy, and cultural fields. However, the Internet has also brought with it various kinds of cybercrimes despite its contribution to the economic and social development and bringing convenience to people’s life. In particular, due to the openness and globalization of the Internet, cybercrimes have shown its transnational characteristics. How to join forces and combat cybercrime and curb its expansion should be a common concern to law enforcement agencies from around the world. The Chinese law enforcement agencies have attached great importance to cooperating with the law enforcement agencies from other countries to deal with challenges brought about by cybercrimes. Now, on behalf of the Network Security Protection Service of Ministry of Public Security, I will give you a brief introduction to the general situation of the cybercrimes in China, international police-affair cooperation as well as some suggestions for international police-affair cooperation:

1. The general situation of the cybercrimes in China

(1) The main types of the cybercrime in China.

At present, the most prominent cybercrimes on China’s Internet include pornography, gambling, fraud, hackers’ attacks, illegal sales of contraband, and infringement of intellectual property.

(2) Related legislation against the cybercrimes in China

Our legislation against cybercrime mainly comprises two aspects: first, for cases of using the Internet to engage in pornography, gambling, fraud, illegal sales of contraband and infringement of intellectual property, laws and regulations against traditional crimes are adopted in the punishment; second, for cases of hackers’ attacks and sabotage, independent conviction is adopted in the criminal law.

In addition to the criminal law incriminating acts of invading computer information system, damaging the data and functions of the system and so on, which was adopted in 1997, the seventh amendment of criminal law which amended relevant laws against hackers’ attacks and sabotage was introduced in 2009. In the amendment, acts of controlling computer information system through illegal control of the botnet, illegally obtaining data through stealing users’ accounts and providing destructive programs such as Trojan-horse programs are all incriminated independently, providing a more consolidated basis for combating botnets, network theft and the making and selling of Trojan-horse programs. Since the introduction of this amendment came into force, we have shut down more than 80 criminal gangs producing and providing hacking equipments. Currently, we are looking into the introduction of judicial interpretations against hacker’s attacks and sabotage so as to specify the standard for imposing penalty.

(3) The main characteristics of the cybercrime in China

First, cybercrimes are beginning to form profit chains that allow for the division of responsibilities and the distribution of profits among different gangs. For example, many botnet operations go through pornographic websites to spread Trojan-horse programs in order to gain control of computer information systems.

Second, the transnational cybercrimes are increasing in prominence. In particular, the criminal activities such as cyber gambling and fraud in China are manipulated by oversea criminal organizations. The terminals of the illegal websites such as the phishing websites, pornographic websites built by Chinese criminals, as well as the emails and other network resources used, are mostly located in the United States.

Third, China has become one of the main victims of hackers’ attacks and other cybercrimes. In China, eight out of every ten computers connected to the Internet were once controlled by the botnet, and most botnet terminals are located abroad. Nearly 200 government websites in China are being attacked every day, while more than 80% of the attacks come from oversea terminals.

2. International law enforcement cooperation in China’s fight against cybercrimes

Due to the transnational characteristic of cybercrimes, along with the fact that our country has become a major victim of transnational cybercrimes, the Chinese public security organs always pay great attention to the cooperation with law enforcement agencies of other countries, and we are working hard to promote the establishment of closer, more effective cooperative relations with other countries in fighting against cross-border cybercrime activities.

First is strengthening international law enforcement cooperation in combating cybercrimes. Since 2004, Chinese public security organs have helped 41 countries with the investigation of 721 cases of cybercrimes. For example, we helped the American police uncovering a pharmaceutical case in which Wang Daijun sold counterfeit Viagra to the United States, and a fraud case in which a man from Putian, Fujian province swindled American citizens.

Second is strengthening the construction of international cooperation mechanism in combating cybercrimes. We have established bilateral police cooperation with nearly 30 countries such as the United States, Britain, and Germany and so on. Our workgroup fighting against information technology crimes with the help of the Interpol in the Asia Pacific region has established an annual meeting cooperative mechanism. We have established designated person contact mechanism in the investigation of the cybercrime with the United States and six other countries. We have established Cybercrime Technology Information Network System (CTINS) with Japan, Republic of Korea, and 12 other Asian countries in order to exchange information on cybercrime developments and share technologies of investigating and collecting evidence. In line with the cooperative spirit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), we have formulated the “Action Plan for SCO members to Guarantee International Information Security” and established cooperative mechanism in the cybercrime investigation and evidence collection.

Third is strengthening international communication on combating cybercrime. China has actively participated in the International Criminal Police Organizations, APEC organization, ASEAN Regional Forum and other symposiums organized by international organizations. At the same time, by holding "China-ASEAN Seminar on Cybercrime Detection", we have provided other countries with training programs on cybercrime investigation and evidence collection.

3. Suggestions for the international law enforcement cooperation in fighting against the cybercrime

(1) Existing problems in international cooperation. In recent years, under the effort of all involved countries, international cooperation to combat cybercrimes has made some progress. However, in general, due to many problems in the cooperative mechanism and cooperative efficiency, we have been unable to fully meet the need to combat cybercrimes. We think that the following two problems are the most prominent:

First, the differences in legal system pose great difficulties in international cooperation. On the one hand, the substantive law in different countries varies a great deal. For example, the dissemination of pornography in China constitutes a crime whereas it is legal in the United States. Another example is the possession of child pornography in the United States and Europe constitutes a crime while it does not constitute a crime in China. So, it is hard to cooperate effectively unless there is a double criminality.

On the other hand, great differences exist in the procedural laws of different countries. For example, in case jurisdiction, several departments have jurisdiction over criminal cases in the United States, but in China, the cases are divided into administrative cases (equivalent to a misdemeanor in the United States) and criminal cases (equivalent to a felony in the United States). And while criminal cases are mainly under the jurisdiction of the public security organs, many administrative cases such as cases of violating intellectual property rights and sending junk e-mail are beyond the jurisdiction of public security organs.

In terms of evidence retrieval procedures, the preconditions of retrieving contents of non-communication, contents of communication and bank account information differ from country to country. So, there are often cases in which we can not effectively assist each other to obtain evidence. For example,the legal proceedings and rules of retrieving the contents of communications in the United States are very complex, and in our previous cooperation we have never been successful in the retrieval of electronic data related to communications from the United States. And in China, when a case does not reach the criminal case limit, it is forbidden to take information involving citizens’ privacy for investigation. So we are also unable to provide our assistance to countries that requested investigation because their evidences are incomplete or the circumstances and severity of the crime do not reach the standard of legal registration.

Second, the inefficient collaboration can hardly meet the need of combating cybercrimes. As the electronic evidences related to cybercrimes are easily damaged, this requires us to fix the relative evidences as soon as possible. However, the current cooperation between countries is abnormally inefficient. On one hand, the response in collaboration is very inefficient. For example, we often receive responses six months to a year from the time we sent for international assistance, by then any data have lost their value for our investigation.

For example, since 2009, China have sent to the FBI all together 13 cases about fake banking websites and child pornography cases for investigation assistance, but we have not received any reply. In particular, in our investigation of the "Young Hong Empire" child pornography websites ( this year, we found that the website’s server is located in the United States, so it also constitutes a crime in the United States and there are no legal barriers. But our collaborative request sent out to the United States in June has not yet been responded.

On the other hand, the initiation of assist requests in investigation is inefficient. For example, among the international investigation assistance requests China received over the past 5 years, over 70% investigate cases happened more than 6 months ago. But in China, the law stipulates that the Internet logs are only retained for 2 months, resulting in the failure in collaboration in a large number of cases.

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