Battling International Cybercrime

Germany called for greater cross-border efforts to combat Internet crime Tuesday as law enforcers from eight major countries began a new round of talks on how to keep criminals from using cyberspace for fraud, pornography and potentially terrorism.

Interior Minister Otto Schily told a Group of Eight conference of police officials and high-tech executives in Berlin that the Internet must not become a "lawless zone" even though it doesn't lend itself to regulation.

"We're not talking about an international cyber-police, but better international cooperation is certainly needed," he said.

Police and justice officials in many countries have complained about the lack of regulation on the Internet, warning that unless national police forces and cross-border agencies such as Interpol hire and train specialists, they will be outsmarted by Internet hackers and fraudsters. Cybercrime causes tens of billions of dollars in damage yearly.

Warning signals for governments and business leaders were last May's "ILOVEYOU" virus, which struck millions of computers worldwide, and the hackers who last February jammed major Web sites such as

"What will happen if highly professional cyber-terrorists decide to attack a power station, waterworks or gasworks, telecommunications, health care, railways or aviation?" German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin said at the conference.

Schily also voiced Germany's frustration that it cannot shut down Web sites carrying neo-Nazi propaganda banned in Germany because they are based in countries such as the United States, where they fall under free speech guarantees.

The three-day meeting was designed to explore how software and telecommunications firms can help law enforcers build systems to track cybercriminals and preserve evidence before it vanishes off the Web.

The G-8 includes the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia.

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