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D5.2b: ID-related Crime: Towards a Common Ground for Interdisciplinary Research

Some cases and legal responses  Title:
 Social and Economic Aspects



As we have seen in the examples, the problem in tackling identity crime rarely lies in the lack of suitable legal provisions. Rather, the situation is exactly the opposite: most incidents of identity crime will be covered by a multitude of provisions, allowing the prosecution to take its pick. The failure to adequately stem the increase of such crimes originates from a different problem: the inability to consistently apply these provisions in practice and the lack of a comprehensive integral framework.

In fact, this is a problem that seems to rear its head in any form of cybercrime: criminals have the distinct advantage of always being at the forefront of new technological developments, allowing them to exploit a seemingly endless stream of technical loopholes to manipulate their victims. And even when no such loophole is available, a combination of social engineering and the lack of security awareness in the average user offers a plethora of criminal opportunities. Add to this the simple fact that national borders are all but meaningless in the information society, and an almost ideal situation has presented itself.

Law enforcement agencies on the other hand have to deal with limited budgets, difficulties in keeping up with identity criminals from a technological perspective, and inefficiencies resulting from the need for cross-border collaboration. Thankfully, positive steps have been undertaken to remedy some of these difficulties (e.g. by the establishment of national computer security incident response teams, and more recently the establishment of ENISA), but a great deal of work still remains to be done. This is especially true for cross-border law enforcement collaboration outside of the European Union.

Additionally, there is an insufficient consensus on the importance of privacy protection. While the European data protection directives have greatly strengthened the European legal framework, the strict application of this framework is not always considered a priority. Outside of the European Union, no international consensus exists on the importance of the protection of personal data as such, although awareness of this issue seems to be increasing.

While the legal framework still offers room for improvement (especially where international collaboration is concerned), it seems clear to us that the current trend of rising identity crime can not be stopped through legal action. Rather, a hybrid solution combining legal response mechanisms with technical measures seems in order. The development of new identification techniques, such as the use of biometric identifiers, certainly offers some possibilities in this regard, as does the increasing acceptance of technical aides such as digital signatures.

And finally, the role of user awareness should not be neglected. After all, no additional security mechanisms will ever aid a user who is not convinced that his personal data is worth keeping safe.


Some cases and legal responses  fidis-wp5-del5.2b.ID-related_crime_03.sxw  Social and Economic Aspects
Denis Royer 13 / 44