Connect with us

coronavirus

Combating cybercrime in the postpandemic era: Taiwan can help

SHARE:

Published

on

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged much of the globe. In mid-May 2021, the Republic of China (Taiwan) saw a sudden rise in case numbers. When Taiwan needed help the most, partners such as the United States, Japan, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, as well as the COVAX Facility, global allocation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines, immediately pledged to donate or provided vaccines to Taiwan, allowing Taiwan to gradually bring the pandemic back under control, writes Huang Chia-lu, commissioner, Criminal Investigation Bureau Republic of China (Taiwan).

This is a testament to the international joint efforts to tackle the serious challenges brought about by the pandemic. The same joint efforts will be needed to address growing international cybercrimes in the postpandemic era, and Taiwan is willing to be part of that effort. Throughout the pandemic, Taiwan government agencies and private companies have closely followed antipandemic policies to prevent cluster infections. People began working from home and schools adopted virtual learning. Consumers turned to e-commerce, and online food ordering and delivery service platforms flourished. The pandemic has led to these changes in our lives, and while it is sure to abate in the foreseeable future, the spread of cybertechnology will not.

It has fundamentally altered the way we work, live, learn, and relax—resulting in an entirely new lifestyle. However, our increased reliance on cybertechnology has also made it easier than ever for criminals to exploit security vulnerabilities to commit crimes. Thus, cybersecurity will be one of the most important issues in the postpandemic era as it is essential to maintaining public safety worldwide. Cybercrime transcends borders; transnational co-operation is the key. As cybercrime transcends borders, victims, perpetrators, and crime scenes may be located in different countries.

The most common cybercrime is telecom fraud, which utilizes the internet and other telecommunications technologies. Transnational cooperation is necessary to bring international crime rings to justice. In 2020, Taiwan police used big data analytics to identify multiple Taiwan nationals who were suspected of establishing telecom fraud operations in Montenegro. Taiwan contacted Montenegro and proposed mutual legal assistance, enabling the Montenegrin Special State Prosecutor’s Office to move forward with the case.

Advertisement

Through joint efforts, Taiwan and the Montenegrin police forces uncovered three telecom fraud operations and arrested 92 suspects accused of impersonating Chinese government officials, police, and prosecutors. It is believed that the suspects scammed more than 2,000 people in China, causing up to US$22.6 million in financial losses. This case highlights the features of transnational crime. The suspects were Taiwan nationals, while the victims were Chinese nationals. The alleged crime occurred in Montenegro and was perpetrated with telecommunications technologies.

Thanks to bilateral police co-operation, the suspects were apprehended, preventing other innocent people from falling victim to the scam. Caption: Montenegrin Special State Prosecutor’s Office transfers proceedings to Taiwan police. Child and youth sexual exploitation is another internationally condemned crime, with countries worldwide making every effort to prevent it and bring perpetrators to justice. In 2019, Taiwan police received information from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s virtual private network CyberTipline indicating that a South African citizen in Taiwan was suspected of having uploaded large quantities of child pornography to the internet. Following the lead, Taiwan police quickly located the suspect and searched his residence, seizing evidence of child pornography. Police also found photographs and videos of him sexually assaulting Taiwanese children. The illicit images were stored on servers located in the United States, and the alleged crimes were committed in Taiwan.

As the victims in this case were underage, they were too young to adequately explain the situation or seek assistance. If Taiwan police had not received the leads, the suspect would likely have continued to assault more children. This case owes its success to transnational cooperation and criminal intelligence sharing, which can effectively curb crime. Caption: International joint co-operation to combat child pornography Cybercrime involves cross-border investigations. However, jurisdictions and definitions of crimes vary among law enforcement agencies worldwide. Criminal rings understand this all too well and exploit the resulting information barriers, fleeing to other countries to decrease the likelihood of being caught.

Advertisement

Like COVID-19, cybercrime can strike individuals in any country. Therefore, just as the world has joined forces to combat the pandemic, countering cybercrime requires the cooperation of international police forces assisting and sharing information with one another. Only then can more crimes be prevented and more cases be solved efficiently, allowing people worldwide to enjoy a safer life. Taiwan police authorities have long strived to promote international cooperation in combating cross-border crime. In 2020, there were three prominent cases. Through the joint efforts of Taiwan, Vietnam, and the United States, transnational telecom fraud call centers were raided in January; the following month, a US currency counterfeiting ring was discovered; and 12 individuals suspected of involvement in human trafficking and violation of the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act were arrested in July. Taiwan police authorities have a specialized High Technology Crime Investigation Unit and professional cybercrime investigators.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) under the National Police Agency of the Ministry of the Interior, also established a Digital Forensics Lab that meets international standards. The laboratory was issued the world’s first ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for Windows Program Analysis by the Taiwan Accreditation Foundation. In 2021, the CIB standardized its 4 malware analysis procedures, in addition to establishing file analysis and network analysis mechanisms. Taiwan’s expertise in combatting cybercrime will benefit global efforts to build a safer cyberspace. Taiwan can help create a safer world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the fact that diseases transcend national borders and it can affect anyone—regardless of skin color, ethnicity, language, or gender. Distrust, disagreements, and a lack of transparency between nations accelerated the spread of the virus. Only when international partners provide mutual assistance and share antipandemic information, expertise, and vaccines can the world overcome the pandemic faster and successfully. The Global Policing Goals were endorsed by INTERPOL member countries in 2017, with the stated purpose of creating a safer and more sustainable world. With this mission in mind, we must work together to combat crime—just as we have joined forces to combat the pandemic. No police agency or country should be excluded.

To fight cybercrime and bolster global cybersecurity effectively, the world needs to co-operate. Taiwan needs the world’s support and Taiwan is willing and able to help the world by sharing its experience. As the entire world teams up to combat the pandemic this year, we urge the international community, in the same spirit, to support Taiwan’s bid to attend the INTERPOL’s General Assembly as an observer this year and participate in INTERPOL meetings, mechanisms, and training activities. Taiwan’s pragmatic and meaningful participation would help make the world a safer place for all.

Share this article:

coronavirus

In muddle of Merkel exit, COVID's fourth wave catches Germany out

Published

on

By

Car drivers queue outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-in vaccination centre at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

For once, proverbially efficient Germany has dropped the ball, write Ludwig Burger and Joseph Nasr.

Seemingly endless queues all over the country for coronavirus booster shots and even for first vaccines are evidence that it has been caught out by a fourth wave of COVID-19, having led the world in its initial response to the pandemic early last year.

Then, swift reporting and measures to limit contagion, helped by inspired political leadership, meant Germany suffered far fewer transmissions and deaths than Italy, Spain, France or Britain.

But now it is among the worst affected nations in western Europe, hitting a record of over 76,000 infections on Friday and preparing to fly severely ill people around the country to find intensive care beds. Read more.

Advertisement

Many academics and clinicians blame vaccine-hesitancy. While waning vaccine protection is compounding the emergency, about 32% of Germany's population have had no COVID-19 vaccine at all - among the highest rates in western Europe.

In fact, the federal government ended funding for 430 vaccination centres at the end of September, when the flow of those seeking vaccination ebbed, passing the burden to family doctors and other medical practices.

While in Britain more than 24% have had a booster shot after their initial course, in Germany the number is below 10%.

Advertisement

With general practitioners now overwhelmed by demand, Thomas Mertens, chairman of the vaccination advisory panel STIKO, said last week - before the detection of a new highly contagious variant in South Africa - that most elderly people would be unlikely to get a booster before December or January.

'CONFUSION AND FRUSTRATION'

Critics also point out that Germany has been in a political vacuum since a general election in September.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, a former scientist who in early 2020 won praise for her swift decision to impose a lockdown and for a forceful televised appeal to reduce social contacts, has been leading a lame-duck administration while a new three-party coalition government is formed.

Frank Roselieb, director of the Crisis Research Institute in Kiel, said a "void" in communication from Merkel, who had already announced her retirement and travelled abroad as intensive care units filled up, had led to widespread public complacency.

"Communication about the pandemic was left to subordinates and health experts who have less reach and impact than the chancellor," he said.

To add to the disruption, Health Minister Jens Spahn this month told the 16 federal states to prioritise Moderna boosters that were nearing their expiry date over the more commonly used BioNTech/Pfizer shot.

Spahn hailed Moderna as the "Rolls-Royce" of vaccines to overcome Germans' stubborn preference for the home-made BioNTech. Read more.

But family doctors had to change their procedures, and Verena Bentele, president of the VdK social care association, said hesitant recipients were unlikely to be reassured by receiving a soon-to-expire vaccine:

"The management of the pandemic has been marked by unclear communication, which has led to confusion and frustration."

Getting a grip on the crisis will now be the first priority for the incoming government led by the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats. Read more.

Though not sworn in yet, the parties were criticised this month for failing to use their majority in parliament to stop the expiry of emergency laws that allow the federal government to order local lockdowns.

Chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz of the SPD has promised to speed up vaccinations and has declined to rule out making them compulsory.

Share this article:

Continue Reading

coronavirus

Commission approves €10 million Maltese support package for the tourism sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

Published

on

The European Commission has approved a €10 million Maltese support package for the tourism and directly related sectors affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. The public support will be open to small and medium-sized enterprises and microenterprises active in the tourism sector and in directly related ones, including notably the accommodation, travel, tourist events and cultural heritage sites sectors. The package consists of three schemes to support in particular: (i) the organization of meetings, conferences, and exhibitions; (ii) cultural heritage sites; and (iii) licensed tour operators offering travel package holidays to Malta. Under all schemes, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The purpose of the package is to address the liquidity needs of the beneficiaries and to help them continue their activities during and after the outbreak.

The Commission found that the Maltese support package is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €2.3 million per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2022. The Commission concluded that the schemes are necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the support package under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64380 in the State aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

Share this article:

Continue Reading

coronavirus

Coronavirus: Commission proposes to strengthen co-ordination of safe travel in the EU

Published

on

The European Commission has proposed to update the rules on co-ordination of safe and free movement in the EU, which were put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the summer, vaccine uptake has increased significantly and the EU Digital COVID Certificate has been rolled out successfully, with more than 650 million certificates issued to date. At the same time, the epidemiological situation in the EU continues to develop with some Member States taking additional public health measures, including administering booster vaccines. Taking into account all those factors, the Commission is proposing a stronger focus on a ‘person-based' approach to travel measures and a standard acceptance period for vaccination certificates of 9 months since the primary vaccination series. The 9 month period takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the administration of booster doses as of 6 months, and provides for an additional period of 3 months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens can have access to boosters.

The Commission is also proposing updates to the EU traffic light map; as well as a simplified ‘emergency brake' procedure. 

The Commission is also proposing today to update the rules on external travel to the EU [press release available as of 14:15].

Advertisement

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, the Commission has been fully active in finding solutions to guarantee the safe free movement of people in a coordinated manner. In light of the latest developments and scientific evidence, we are proposing a new recommendation to be adopted by the Council. Based on our common tool, the EU Digital COVID Certificate, which has become a real standard, we are moving to a ‘person-based' approach. Our main objective is avoid diverging measures throughout the EU. This also applies to the question of boosters, which will be essential to fight the virus. Among other measures, we propose today that the Council agrees on a standard validity period for vaccination certificates issued following the primary series. Agreeing on this proposal will be crucial for the months ahead and the protection of the safe free movement for citizens.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety added:  “The EU Digital COVID Certificate and our coordinated approach to travel measures have greatly contributed to safe free movement, with the protection of public health as our priority. We have vaccinated over 65% of the total EU population, but this is not enough. There are still too many people who are not protected. For everyone to travel and live as safely as possible, we need to reach significantly higher vaccination rates – urgently. We also need to reinforce our immunity with booster vaccines. Taking into account the guidance from ECDC, and to allow Member States to adjust their vaccination campaigns and for citizens to have access to boosters, we propose a standard acceptance period for vaccination certificates. At the same time, we have to continue to strongly encouraging everyone to continue to respect public health measures. Our masks need to stay on.”

Key updates to the common approach to travel measures within the EU proposed by the Commission are:

Advertisement
  • Focus on a ‘person-based approach': a person who has a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate should in principle not be subject to additional restrictions, such as tests or quarantine, regardless of their place of departure in the EU. Persons without an EU Digital COVID Certificate could be required to undergo a test carried out prior to or after arrival.
  • Standard validity of vaccination certificates: To avoid diverging and disruptive approaches, the Commission proposes a standard acceptance period of 9-month for vaccination certificates issued following the completion of the primary vaccination series. The 9 month period takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the administration of booster doses as of 6 months, and provides for an additional period of 3 months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens can have access to boosters. This means that, in the context of travel, Member States should not refuse a vaccination certificate that has been issued less than 9 months since the administration of the last dose of the primary vaccination. Member States should immediately take all necessary steps to ensure access to vaccination for those population groups whose previously issued vaccination certificates approach the 9-month limit.
  • Booster shots: As of yet, there are no studies expressly addressing the effectiveness of boosters on transmission of COVID-19 and therefore it is not possible to determine an acceptance period for boosters. However, given the emerging data it can be expected that protection from booster vaccinations may last longer than that resulting from the primary vaccination series. The Commission will closely monitor newly emerging scientific evidence on this issue. On the basis of such evidence, the Commission may, if needed, propose an appropriate acceptance period also for vaccination certificates issued following a booster.
  • The EU traffic light map is adapted: combining new cases with a region's vaccine uptake. The map would be mainly for information purposes, but would also serve to coordinate measures for areas with particularly low (‘green') or particularly high level (‘dark red') of circulation of the virus. For these areas, specific rules would apply by derogation from the ‘persons-based approach'. For travellers from ‘green' areas, no restrictions should be applied. Travel to and from ‘dark red' areas should be discouraged, given the high number of new infections there, and persons who are neither vaccinated nor have recovered from the virus should be required to undergo a pre-departure test and quarantine after arrival (with special rules for essential travelers and children under 12 years old).
  • Exemptions from certain travel measures: should apply for cross-border commuters, children under 12 and essential travellers. The list of essential travellers should be reduced as many travellers included in the current list have had the opportunity to be vaccinated in the meantime.
  • Simplified ‘emergency brake' procedure: the emergency procedure intended to delay the spread of possible new COVID-19 variants or address particularly serious situations should be simplified and more operational. It would include a Member State notification to the Commission and the Council and a roundtable at the Council's Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR).

To allow for sufficient time for the coordinated approach to be implemented, the Commission proposes that these updates apply as of 10 January 2022.

Background

On 3 September 2020, the Commission made a proposal for a Council Recommendation to ensure that any measures taken by Member States that restrict free movement due to the coronavirus pandemic are coordinated and clearly communicated at EU level.

On 13 October 2020, EU Member States committed to ensuring more coordination and better information sharing by adopting the Council Recommendation.

On 1 February 2021, the Council adopted a first update to the Council Recommendation, which introduced a new colour, ‘dark red', for the mapping of risk areas and set out stricter measures applied to travellers from high-risk areas.

On 20 May 2021, the Council amended the Council Recommendation to allow non-essential travel for fully vaccinated people, as well as to strengthen the measures to contain the spread of variants of concern.

On 14 June 2021, the Parliament and the Council adopted the Regulation establishing the EU Digital COVID Certificate framework. To make best use of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, the Council adopted, on the same day, a second update to the Council Recommendation, providing for exemptions from travel restrictions for fully vaccinated and recovered persons.

Since June 2021, the rollout of the EU Digital COVID Certificate has progressed at rapid pace. On 18 October 2021, the Commission issued the first report on the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, a widely available and reliably accepted tool to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In view of these developments, the common approach set out in Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/1475 should be adapted further, which was also a request made by the European Council in its conclusions of 22 October 2021.

In parallel, as done for the EU DCC Regulation, the Commission adopted today a proposal to cover also third country nationals lawfully residing in the EU and third country nationals who have legally entered the territory of a Member State, who may move freely within the territories of all other Member States during no more than 90 days in any 180-day period. The latest information on travel rules as communicated by Member States are available on the Re-open EU website.

More information

Questions & Answers on the new Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation to facilitate safe free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic

Factsheet on the new Commission proposal to ensure coordination on safe travel in the EU

Factsheet COVID-19: Travel and health measures in the EU

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to facilitate safe free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic and replacing Recommendation (EU) 2020/1475

The EU Digital COVID Certificate: a global standard with more than 591 million certificates

ReopenEU

Share this article:

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending